We had the good fortune of connecting with Donna Nazir and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Donna, what makes you happy? Why?
2020 reminded us all how little we can control, but that we can control how we choose to react to bad things that happen. For me, happiness looks a lot like enjoying the present moment with all five senses, because I’m not promised tomorrow. As an entrepreneur, I use to find myself making lists, and constantly checking tasks off on my never-ending list. There was always something I wanted to accomplish to be “happy.” I would find myself celebrating for what felt like brief fleeting moments at a time when I reached a goal only to be interrupted by my next “urgent task.” There was always another condition I felt I had to satisfy to define my version of happiness. I found myself living in the future a lot, which led to feeling stressed, losing sleep, and compromising my health at times. No matter how much success I reached it was never enough. Happiness had become an elusive white rabbit that I chased down the proverbial rabbit hole. The more I chased it the further away it felt. I broke that vicious cycle by submerging myself into the present moment. Wherever I find myself nowadays, I’m 100% all in. Whatever the result, I’m okay, and if I’m not okay, well that’s fine too because I’m human. I stopped fearing things that hadn’t happen yet because tomorrow wasn’t promised to me anyhow. Waiting to accomplish goals to be happy is like trying to fill a bucket with a hole at the bottom. It’s a cruel game we could never win. Instead of “happiness” I seek peace, I live in gratitude for the tiny miracles around us each day. Instead of saying, “I have to,” I say, “I get to.” When we live in the past we suffer from depression, when we live in the future we suffer from anxiety. Living in the now is a gift, that’s why they call it the present. Making space to “just be” to surrender to the present moment, to not become overly concerned with the voices in our mind that we have been preconditioned to hear as a society or from early childhood is freeing. In a high-stress world that highly honors accomplishments and fancy titles, coming to the realization that I was the “being” behind the labels, behind the daily roles we play was life-altering. Staying present is where I find joy daily.

Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
My story has the humblest of beginnings. My family and I escaped communist Cuba where my dad was imprisoned as a Political Prisoner for being against the communist regime. We sailed across the Atlantic Ocean in search of a better life. We left with nothing but the shirts on our backs, my mom was forced to leave behind her wedding ring. The government said everything we had belonged to them, (but they were wrong, we now had freedom). We were rescued at sea by the US Coast Guard. We were shipped off to Arkansas where we spent the next three months living in a concentration camp of sorts they called, Fort Chafee. I learned early on that freedom isn’t free. I learned to never take a day in freedom for granted. I learned family was everything and if you wanted something go out and get it, nothing will be handed to you, you must earn it. If you have air in your lungs you have everything you need to get it right now. It’s your birthright to claim it and earn it. I left what was deemed as a successful job in Corporate America to start my own real estate company from scratch. Failure was not an option and I knew once I left, I could never look back. I became my version of The American Dream. I spend my days teaching families how to build and accumulate wealth through selling and buying real estate. The Wallstreet Journal has named me the top 1% of Realtors in the US. The day I read that I cried. It’s exciting to get to be a part of their journey and American Dream. I love what I get to do.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
This summer I accomplished a lifelong dream, I leased a beach house on the world-famous Strand in Manhattan Beach all summer. As a poor kid, I use to skate up and down The Strand in Hermosa Beach, and Manhattan, and always dreamt of what it would feel like to someday sit on one of those terraces. This summer my dream came true, my kids and I woke up to the sound of ocean waves daily, fed the birds, learned to surf, and I skated like a kid again. I would take my friend or loved one there, in the middle of this global pandemic, open air and ocean water while submerged in nature make a nice break from Zoom.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would love to give a shoutout to my daughters who love me unconditionally and are my best friends, Jasmine and Gianna you make me proud every day. Alex Cabanas my nephew encourages me to read good books and is one of the smartest humans I know. My mom, my biggest fan and I’m hers, she is the eternal keeper of the Band-Aids in our family (and she can heal anything with her love). My sister is the strongest woman I know, and I look up to her for that. Her husband Jeff is my example of peace and patience. My dad is our Super Tata. Jacob and Lilly, my rocks at work. Gus and Ralph two of the best dang souls anyone can ever meet. Maria my first boss, taught me the fine art of negotiations, while never compromising ethics. Sal, my ex-husband for my beautiful babies. My brothers Pete and Eddie for helping raise a strong woman. God for loving me first. And finally, VoyageLA for letting me tell my story again. Love you all!

Other: Google: Realtor in Rancho Cucamonga

Image Credits
Eddie Almanza

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