Thanks for all the feedback. Here are answers to the questions:
The business: It was an online lead-generation business. I was generating about 2000 leads/day for real estate agents/mortgage brokers. For four years the business was incredible, involving about 30 minutes/day of work and earning literally millions in profit. Then, in a span of one week in December 2007, ALL three of my major customers cancelled, all of whom had worked with me for four years. Ouch. That's what it looks like when a business falls off a cliff. So I got an executive position with a company and was laid off eight months later when the financial crisis hit. So I bought a business, but it wasn't right for me, so I sold it six months later at a loss. Then I found a commission-only sales job that I actually really enjoy, and became the top dog and have remained so for the past three years. Whatever hit me, I just decided to keep on keeping on and looking for new ways to make money and trim expenses.
Real vs. Nominal: I'm back up in nominal, not real terms. That said, I am not including the value of my new vehicle nor the six figures I've given to a charitable endowment in my net worth calculation, so if I hadn't done either of those, I'd be closer to being back in real terms. (Also if my darned house wasn't worth $400k less than I paid for it!!!) More importantly, I've taken lots of steps to reduce my monthly expenses, so my personal level of inflation is probably actually deflation over the past five years. What has changed is my outlook. In 2007 I felt as if the stock market had already had it's downturn in 2000-2002, and therefore I was relatively safe with such high equity exposure. I tended to focus too much on the opportunity cost of missing the next rally. Now, I'm focusing a lot more on what I need to live the life I want, and trying to have appropriate risk/reward exposure for those goals and my age. Again, thanks Bogleheads and Jack Bogle for the kick in the pants.