“Exciting, unpredictable, creative, absurd, confident, reflective, don’t look back, and fun” could be words pulled from the review of a new musical just opening in New York. I can’t wait to see it, sounds wonderful. But wait, those words aren’t from a review. They are Linda Kaufman’s own words about her life today. Or they could be phrases used to describe Linda. I met with Linda recently to talk about her life for this blog and I came away with a greater insight into her personality than I could have ever imagined.
I became involved with Linda on a professional level when she volunteered to be the pianist at our synagogue’s casual style High Holy Day Services in the early 1990’s. Linda was to play an original song she wrote for our youth choir for the new style morning service and act as music director. The music was beautiful and inspiring when Linda played the songs and music written for the service. From this awesome start our friendship and sometimes adversarial relationship grew. Linda then was in her mid fifties. At that time she was really just getting started with her local run as a piano teacher, humor columnist and play director.
She went on to co-produce a number of dramatic plays and lively musicals at the synagogue. They were mostly original productions that utilized her talents and the talents of synagogue members in exciting productions that ran several times a year for a week or two. During this time my position as administrator of the synagogue put me in close contact with Linda and the other players, sometimes cordial, sometimes not. But they finally converted me to their cause and I eventually participated in one production (a minor reading part in a serious production). If you can’t beat them, join them is an old cliché that snared me into Linda’s troupe.
Nothing remains the same. The only constant in life is change and so Linda’s life took a dramatic shift in 2007. Her third husband, Al, informed her that they had serious financial problems and that there would be a dramatic drop in their income. Linda’s sole income came from her piano lessons, not nearly enough for both of them. Al is much older than Linda and was in no position to return to the work force. Her first husband, father of her children, was a scoundrel and they divorced. Her second husband died in an auto accident that seriously injured Linda. Now Al is struggling with financial setbacks. Others might be broken or depressed and have difficult times ahead. This could have happened to Linda, but a fortunate opportunity came to her at the right moment. A casual acquaintance, a successful female realtor, told her she was “waiting for her.” The rest is a story-book success tale; Linda took real estate classes that summer and received her real estate license. By the fall she was working as a realtor.
Linda possessed high expectations from the start; she reached and exceeded those goals right from the beginning.
With practical help and leads from her family she sold three homes during her first year; now four years later she lists homes with a total value of four million dollars and sold seven houses during the first half of 2011. I am sure there were doubters when she started her new career as to the wisdom of her decision to relegate piano lessons to a minor role. Her positive attitude gave Linda the confidence to know she would be successful, but her definition of success has changed in four short years. She would not be satisfied with three sales in a year now, unless they were million dollar sales. Al told her when the got married he wished he had a product to sell because she could sell anything. She was very persuasive and a natural salesperson.
Linda believes that everyone should have goals and dreams, even if they are absurd. She admits that is not easy being a realtor but she utilizes years of other experiences and her keen people skills to make her new career choice a slam dunk. She loves that every day is different, every home is different, and each buyer or seller has a uniqueness that makes her happy to get up in the morning and see what challenges await. Each day brings excitement and passion that makes that day the best day of her life, until the next day.
Linda harbors no doubts about her life now. Linda is very reflective about her life and in her yet unpublished memoir, “What’s a Nice Jewish Girl Doing in a Place Like This”, she recounts her life as a spiritual journey rather than a series of events. She is confident everyday and sees no end in sight.
When I asked her about what else she would do or if she was considering any vacations she answered quite frankly. First, she told me she would love to transform one of her musicals into an animated movie and has ideas for implementation of that project. She went on to add that the idea of travel and vacations is fascinating but she’s not interested in any trips unless she could take her entire family with her; she was bored on a recent cruise. Her ideal mini-vacation would be an evening out to a wonderful restaurant, with good company, a bottle of wine and a night of thoughtful conversation. In fact, that evening she was having her children, grandchildren and perhaps a few others for dinner and was rushing back to work before going home to prepare a sumptuous meal for the happiest day of her life, today.
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