A cool life is being content to just be. A cool life is practicing gratitude for all that is good.”

Tania Gonda, of Weichert, REALTORS®, was raised in Presque Isle, Maine, an agriculture zone with unique cultural norms. In the fall, schools would close for three weeks so that students could get the potato crop out of the ground before it froze.

“As kids, we picked potatoes or worked on a potato harvester from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., with a half-hour lunch and two 15-minute coffee breaks,” Tania recalls. “Some days, we worked 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., if the weather had delayed us on other days. Slacking off was not possible when one worked on a potato harvester! Everyone knew how to work and carry their own weight.”

 Those years in Maine taught Tania the value of hard work. As she says, “anything worth doing is worth doing well.”

Tania’s parents encouraged her that she could be whomever she wanted to be. They fostered her self-esteem and took the family on vacations. They taught her the value of diversity, equality, and kindness.

Uncovering Success

After Tania stepped into the corporate world, she eventually became a recruiter. “And, if one is any good at recruiting, one is good at sales,” Tania laughs.

After 9/11, Tania felt an increased desire to be near her children. She had considered going into real estate for some time, and in 2002, she decided to leave her career as a recruiter to become a real estate agent.

“It was a natural fit,” Tania says. “I already had excellent customer service skills, negotiation skills, and was a born advocate. The skillset was remarkably the same; the knowledge base was different.”

Over the past 18 years, Tania has enjoyed tremendous success. While her real estate business continues to flourish, Tania’s greatest “success” is her family. “My happiest and proudest moments are associated with my (now adult) children,” she says. “Those moments have to do with my sons using their intellect and negotiation skills to find solutions. They may not be the solutions I would have initially chosen, but my sons carefully consider their options and choose the best ones for them. Sometimes, we have to recognize that their solutions are better than options their dad and I would have considered.”

“I still laugh about this example,” she says. “My older son had graduated from university, was making good money, and was still living at home. I suggested that his new raise and income were great, and maybe now was a good time to start paying rent. He said, ‘Oh, no, Mom, I am not going to pay rent! I want to buy a house, and if I do not pay rent, I can buy sooner and be completely out of your hair!’ What a classic thing to say to your mother, the real estate agent. There is nothing wrong with his negotiation skills.”

To this day, Tania is passionate about her family and their health, happiness, and general well-being. Her nuclear family consists of her husband Tim Sr., son Tim Jr., daughter-in-law Andrea, and son Todd.

A Cool Life: Living in Gratitude

As Tania reflects on her life, a feeling of immense gratitude rises to the surface. She is grateful to have grown up in Maine and to have landed in Virginia. She is grateful to have met her husband and raised two loving children. She is grateful for her caring friends, colleagues, and clients.

“There is no [what I have liked about life] ‘best so far,’” Tania exclaims. “Life keeps getting better.”

“If I could have done anything differently, I might have learned earlier to slow down, take a breath, and just be. I would have learned earlier to really listen to my husband and children and truly understand what they were trying to tell me. I would have learned earlier to understand that people are different and may value different things. I would have learned earlier the importance of downtime, play, and how the timing of these works differently for different people.”

“I wish I had known that there is no one-size-fits-all roadmap of how life is supposed to be. Everyone has a different path…I wish I had known even earlier to trust my instincts.”