Michelle Cruz took the last elevator before the second plane hit the second tower of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.
Two decades later, she always carries that life-defining moment with her.
“There is definitely a change going on in the world right now with this Covid,” Cruz said in one of her branding videos of her doing yoga. This fall, she’s trying to get people to see that even if the pandemic has hurt your health, business, or cost you your job — you can still thrive.
“But it is important to know that meditation is the one thing that can keep us focused,” she says in the video.
The yoga instructor, author, and motivational speaker knows all about how life can change in an instant. Twenty years ago, she was sitting at her desk on the 95th floor of tower two at the World Trade Center.
“I heard the roar of an airplane engine and a few seconds later, I heard something that sounded like a bomb," she recalled. "Someone said a plane just hit the tower, and I didn’t know if that was ours our tower one. I grabbed my briefcase and ran for the elevator. By the time we got to the lobby, we saw chaos. People were running.”
This September, television screens across the globe will be displaying the images from those moments. Cruz said she realized the magnitude of the calamity as she moved away from tower two.
“As soon as I walked out of the lobby into the street is when I saw a plane as it began to crash into tower two, and it looked as if it was actually on our floor,” Cruz said.
Her quick actions and stroke of luck kept her alive, but processing what happened and seeing so many of those in her company die in the moments following her escape triggered a need for a change. So Cruz came to Broward County.
“I moved to South Florida in a way that I could heal and be kind of removed from what was going on," she said. "I know that there were a lot of memorial services. There were a lot of searches for people who had been missing and I felt that removing myself and coming out of that chaotic place would enable me to heal in a way I felt was better."
And she decided to share how to heal with others — military veterans, police, firefighters, medical professionals, and anyone who will listen or read her message on how to pursue your destiny. She always does it with those in mind who never made it to that last elevator.
“Throughout the years, there hasn’t been a day that I don’t think about my friends because remembering them reminds me that I’m still here and that my purpose, whatever that would be, is always going to be honoring them in the sense that we can all be aware of our present moment and keep on going, despite the adversity that we have faced over the last 20 years,” she said.
The bottom line: "To make every day the best it can possibly be."
How will she spend this 9/11? Cruz moved back to New York and said she will be out passing by fire stations thanking the firefighters and paramedics for their service.