Written By: Zoey Angulo
When asked what the single most important piece of real estate you own is, what comes to mind? Is it your home, your vacation estate, or the spec property you’re building in that hip new area? Or does some other definition or vision lay in front of you–an asset, when speaking in conventional terms, appears to be abstract but in reality is far more tangible and hopefully carries a higher price than any piece of real estate?
When asked that question, I don’t think of my home. What does come to mind, ironically, is my mind. Yes, you read that correctly. I am relating my mind to real estate. Shouldn’t our minds be the single most important piece of “lived-in” real estate?
Whether you are at work, 30,000 feet up in the air, or lounging at home, the one place you are constantly living in is your mind. Ponder that thought.
Shouldn’t our main focus in life be to use our minds as a tool to enhance our experiences and consistently strive for the scales of mental stability and well-being to be in our favor?
If you do think in those terms, then you need to turn your focus internally and give your mind some time-of-day. Ask yourself, when was the last time you focused on your state of mind? If my grandfather were alive today, he would have a great story to tell on the importance of remaining mentally grounded.
Rewind the film back to the early 1960s. In a matter of two years, my grandfather, like many immigrants in the past fleeing from political regimes, went from owning a beautiful home that sheltered his six beautiful children, being a top attorney in Havana, Cuba, and being a member of the prestigious Havana Yacht Club, to having to leave all he created behind. My grandfather made the decision to send his children to orphanages in the United States with only a jammed-packed suitcase to their name in the hopes of living a life of freedom.
The top-secret operation which allowed my father and uncles to flee Cuba when Fidel Castro first came into power was known as Operation Pedro Pan. It was the largest recorded child refugee exodus in the Western Hemisphere and lasted from 1960 to1962. This partnership between Eisenhower Administration and Catholic Welfare Bureau entailed the mass exodus of over 14,000 unaccompanied minors to the United States, where they eventually were placed in orphanages and foster homes across the country in an effort to escape the communistic regime. The hope of the parents was to eventually be reunited with their children in the land of the free.
The separation anxiety those parents experienced is unimaginable to me.
I think of my grandparents and how they risked it all for something larger than themselves: freedom. Freedom for their children to develop, to travel, to grow, to creatively express themselves, to think freely and openly and to experience the freedom to be and accomplish anything of their wit and will.
Can you imagine what it is like to finally possess the freedom to carve your own path and to travel down it with confidence? And then, I think of my Dad.
When I try to go back in time and be in my father’s mind, I cannot. I wonder what he must have been feeling, thinking. I wonder what parts of that experience he’s been able to let go of and what remains behind, carried deep down within. I can only try to imagine how I would feel if at age ten, while safely sitting at home in beautiful tropical paradise, surrounded by close family and friends, I was torn from it all and transplanted to an orphanage home in Wichita, Kansas, unable to speak the English language. My only possession, a jammed-packed suitcase and an oversized pea-coat over my shoulder hand selected by the Salvation Army…all taking place in a matter of a few days!
I am thinking, at this young age, my father didn’t see that far ahead or behind what he was currently experiencing in that very moment. Children in general have an uncanny ability to utilize their imagination. Their innocence allows them to remain creative and playful, even without having the physical toys to play with. They are afforded by innocence of youth to remain anchored in any experience, free of judgment or worry.
As time passed, my father began making friends and life began to normalize. His older brothers had been transplanted to St. Gregory’s High School/College in Shawnee, Oklahoma. They would hitchhike up to Wichita regularly to look after him and ensure he was doing all right. It was during one such trip that his brother, Carlos (also known as Futi), brought with him a “girl” named Gibson Les Paul. Gibson became his first love, but she wasn’t really a girl. She was actually a guitar. Playing music and creating funky sounds through the Gibson Les Paul became my father’s great escape and his form of meditation. It just so happened that this was the era that rock and roll reached new levels of popularity, sweeping the nation like one big groovy tsunami.
Dad’s parents arrived in the United States two years later, settling in Miami, Florida. Being the youngest and most homesick sibling, dad was then taken out of the Pedro Pan program and enrolled at St. Peter & Paul Junior High, and later La Salle High School. As time progressed, my father and some friends formed a neighborhood band called the “Queens Kids.” They played the high school parties and teen clubs, singing popular rock and roll cover songs. Eventually, with continued practice, some additions and subtractions, a new band of Cuban transplants living in Miami called “Kracker” was formed.
Their band began writing original music and growing in popularity and in 1971 moved to Chicago and started playing concerts in midwest colleges. One night they were performing in Chicago, and someone by the name of Jimmy Miller happened to be in the crowd. Jimmy took a liking to them – Jimmy’s “liking” turned out to be significant, because Jimmy also happened to be a famous musician and producer of the Rolling Stones and many other well known artists. Miller became Kracker’s producer and recorded their first album “La Familia” distributed by ABC Dunhill Records. And in early 1973, while Miller was recording The Rolling Stones “Goat’s Head Soup” LP in Jamaica, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards developed an interest in Kracker, resulting in a deal whereby the band’s second album was licensed for distribution outside of the U.S. by Rolling Stones Records, making Kracker the first band (other than the Stones) on that label. The association with the Rolling Stones grew later that year when Kracker was asked to tour Europe as the opening act for The Rolling Stones. Kracker went on to record a third LP and shared the stage with other notable acts including the legendary Chuck Berry, Sly and the Family Stone and Lou Reed, among many others.
While reflecting on the twist and turns of my father and his family’s life, I find myself in a positive mind state. I imagine how amazing those experiences must have been, and I start to kind-heartedly laugh at how funny life can be. How certain periods in time and space may be viewed as the worst moments of your life, but upon reflection, become blessings from the universe.
After thinking more in-depth about what occurred along my father’s journey, I begin to think about my own experiences and the moments when I have felt at rock bottom. It is now that I realize, in actuality, those moments were really sent down from the heavens as blessings in disguise. I think about the only piece of real estate I truly own, and that, my friends, is my mind. I think of how important it is to tend to and nourish my sacred headspace, and the importance of being mindfully present in each experience.
I am mindful of the importance of appreciating every moment but am also aware of the danger of remaining attached to any moment as it passes. I think of the importance of extracting value from each experience while remaining open to replacing that experience with each new experience.
Finding ways to utilize my mind as a tool to enhance each experience and learn how to make it work with me to maintain my ideal steady state is a priority.
Yoga, working out, meditation, dance, healthy eating, intermittent-fasting, reading and writing are my tools to maintain this state of mind enhancement. I think of how I physically and mentally feel and about my level of consciousness when entering this mind state. I think of the inspiration that surfaces and how in-tune I become with my surroundings. I think of the positive momentum I maintain and the uncanny ability to cultivate deep, heartfelt relationships; not only relationships with family members, friends, colleagues and people met passing by, but also the one I maintain with myself. Lastly, I empathetically think back to people like my father and his family, and how they stand as true testaments to the fact that if you work to develop and preserve your mind, you will be equipped with a robust tool capable of handling any twist and turn as you flow through life’s journey.