Iyanla Vanzant’s Downfall Mirrors My Achilles’ Heel; Iyanla Vanzant’s Road To Recovery: My Inspiration To Keep Going

At one time in her life, Iyanla was receiving million-dollar checks from publishers, but over the years, she lost it all. “I didn’t really have a clear understanding of the value of money other than you need it, you get it, you spend it,” Iyanla says. “I had six bank accounts, and I didn’t know what they were for, where the money was.”

Iyanla was so used to living paycheck to paycheck, she says she was a millionaire with a welfare mentality. “The pathology, the pattern for me was that, in order for me to get money, all money had to be gone,” she says. “The day before payday, you’re looking for pennies and borrowing money. That’s how I was. All money had to be gone before more money could come in.”

When Iyanla was a 21-year-old single mother of three, she says the extent of her financial education was a banker teaching her how to write a check and fill out a deposit slip. “I thought I was doing something good having an accountant,” Iyanla says. “I didn’t know it wasn’t the kind of accountant I needed to have.”

–Source: Iyanla Vanzant: Back From The Brink Page 9


“I made so much money on [Oprah’s] show in an hour,” Iyanla says. “I didn’t have the right kind of support. I didn’t know.”

Then, Iyanla’s talk show was canceled, and she says she had no way to dig out of debt. “When The Iyanla Show went down, they tell you Friday, you’re out of work on Monday, and you can’t go to the unemployment office trying to get a check on that,” she says. “Friday you’re making a million, and Monday you’re making nothing.” –Source: Iyanla Vanzant: Back From The Brink Page 10

When I first read this part of Iyanla Vanzant’s story, it was during a “spell” when I had thought to Google her name, with Oprah’s name. I used to have some of her books, especially In the Meantime: Finding Yourself and the Love You Want,” after hearing her speak on Oprah, as a teen. When I became a Christian, though, I gave away all of the books that I felt would be a hindrance to my faith, as well as some other books that were generally “clean,” but I felt should be given away, still. So for years, just as Iyanla had disappeared from radar, I also forgot about her and forgot that I once considered her a role model in my life.

That week though, just a couple of months ago, I wondered what happened to Iyanla and wondered if she did keep her millions and the charmed life she led when I first heard of her.

At the time I was reading her, I had this sick feeling in my stomach that she may find herself with a quick crash and burn. She was making bold claims in her books, and I was wondering if Life is going to challenge those claims.

She did. It did. She fell from grace, as Life DID challenge her. Just as I wondered.

Take note, I NEVER wished it on her. I just thought it would happen. Anybody claiming a peachy life, whether it’s true or not, or even built on lies, will be put to the test, put through the wringer, and maybe the hand of some imp would light a matchstick and see what the life was made of.

Before I go on, let me make it clear that I believe that God will NEVER bring on bad fortune in your life. But He does ALLOW those things to happen, and in the end, you will know that it will be for your own good, no matter how painful it seemed at the time. I’m only 28, but I know that the hardest seasons in my life have made me the girl that I am today.

This observation is even clear in another Life Lesson that Iyanla shared, too:

“Whenever you declare to be something, everything unlike it will show up,” Iyanla said. “So the minute you declare yourself to be healed or at peace—whatever it is—everything unlike it is gonna show up to test. So remember: “If you don’t have a test, you won’t have a testimony.” –Source: Iyanla Vanzant’s Life Lessons Page 4


So anyway, when I discovered that Iyanla had gone through the worst in her life: losing a daughter, getting a divorce, losing her talk show opportunities, losing her fame and her fortune…

…Basically losing everything and then being reduced to a weeping pile of human flesh hugging broccoli in a grocery store at one point:

“Gemmia’s favorite vegetable was broccoli. … I walked into the supermarket, saw the broccoli and I literally had a psychotic break,” she says. “I laid on the broccoli and just began to weep.”

Iyanla says a produce manager rushed over and asked if she was hurt. “[I responded,] ‘Yes, I’m hurt all over my body,'” she says. “When I was finished, I got up, picked those [broccoli] spurs out my nose and walked right out the store.” –Source: Iyanla Vanzant: Back From The Brink Page 8


Reading her story, I was sad for the things that she had gone through. But, there’s also a silver lining: I’m now glad that she has made her way back to the top: now she has THE show on Oprah that she lost because of her own presumptuousness (and well the fame getting to her head), and more than what she had before — except for her own daughter and her marriage to the man she believes was her soul mate.

I’ll talk about her marriage in a latter post. But for now, I’d like to share what resonated with me most about Iyanla Vanzant’s story:

Iyanla was so used to living paycheck to paycheck, she says she was a millionaire with a welfare mentality. “The pathology, the pattern for me was that, in order for me to get money, all money had to be gone,” she says. “The day before payday, you’re looking for pennies and borrowing money. That’s how I was. All money had to be gone before more money could come in.” –Source: Iyanla Vanzant: Back From The Brink Page 9


Reading that, I realized how similar to Iyanla I was. My monthly take-home had tripled since last year, more so, since 2009, but it sure still felt that I had just as much money, making just around $150 a month, and today, making, on paper, a little over $900 a month (collective, converted).

And I know exactly why I still feel like I’m making $150 even when I’m actually earning more than that: I spend too much on FOOD and things for OTHER PEOPLE, not taking into account what I honestly had. Today’s take-home pay may seem so much more than what I used to have, but it’s still pretty much limited. It still needed to be controlled and properly managed. It still needed to be managed well.

Notwithstanding the fact that I had other troubles that were pretty much beyond my control: servers dying, a client losing a secretary ergo making my salary A WHOLE MONTH late, and then some, even in the light of these uncontrollables, the bottom line is also due to me NOT LISTENING to rock-solid principles shared on the material I read for LiveWealthier:

  • I have NO Emergency Fund.
  • I have dipped into my savings.
  • I buy things for comfort.
  • I have overstepped my personal boundaries in giving. Which, I usually do, actually. I should learn and should learn to balance, right?

But I can’t throw an all-out self-pity party right here. I have to walk on. I have to move forward. There’s no other reason to do so, than the fact that Life is so fun. It is worth living. I have dreams. I have a vision for my life. It is TOTALLY WORTH IT to keep going.

Mistakes, challenges, and being challenged, notwithstanding.

And this:

At last, I was loved and I mattered. I had something to say and people were listening. I could pay my bills on time and I had something left over. I could buy things without looking at the price tag. People knew my name when I walked into a restaurant or store. And yet I was always preoccupied with the next thing.

The first book royalty check I received after a season of appearing on Oprah was so large, I was afraid to touch it. I made a copy of it. I wept over it. I deposited it in the bank and could hardly sleep, thinking that the money would not be there in the morning. It was.

Gemmia told me that I needed to buy myself something special to commemorate the achievement. I thought about it for more than a week. I decided that I would buy two peach-colored armchairs. I wanted to be able to sit in and on that money! I had them custom made and I still have them today. –Source: Book Excerpt: Peace from Broken Pieces by Iyanla Vanzant


…A taste of that first achievement. A taste of that breakthrough. Is more than worth the pain it takes to keep trying.



Photo Credits: Global Grind, S2SMagazineEbony, Lee Bailey’s EurWeb, Cleveland.com

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About Girl On A Live Wealthier Journey

I spend too much for comfort. That's why I love writing about budgets: because at one point, getting it right will open doors in my Live Wealthier journey!

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