Is This Seat Taken?: It's Never Too Late to Find the Right Seat

Is This Seat Taken?: It's Never Too Late to Find the Right Seat

by Kristin S. Kaufman


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Is This Seat Taken?: It's Never Too Late to Find the Right Seat by Kristin S. Kaufman

“Now, what do I do?!”

I dare say, there is not a single person who at least once in his or her life has not faced an unexpected situation, a newfound reality, a daunting challenge, or veiled opportunity and not wondered what to do. You may feel that you have made poor choices, that your opportunities have passed you by, or that you’re playing musical chairs, the music has stopped, and all the seats are taken. 

This book is for those individuals like you who have come to a fork in the road, chosen a path, and found themselves twenty to thirty (or more) years later in a destination they didn’t quite recognize. But the stories are relevant for anyone, at any age, at any station in life who has awakened and wondered what they are going to do next or how will they move forward. I want to offer hope, inspiration, and applicable lessons as derived from the lives of well known, and not-so-famous men and women who found new and unexpected success—by many definitions—late in life.

My hope is that these remarkable transformational stories will light a spark—whether you are twenty-five or sixty-five—to take back the reins of your life and become clear on exactly what you are going to do now and how you wish to contribute to the world. The music has not stopped, and there is still time to find your seat.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781626341654
Publisher: Greenleaf Book Group Press
Publication date: 01/13/2015
Pages: 192
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Kristin Kaufman is the founder of Alignment, Inc., formed in 2007 to serve individuals and corporations as they seek alignment withinthemselves and their organizations.Alignment, Inc., a unique services company through which Kaufman has brought her expertise to thousands of people, works with organizations to create sustainable success individually and collectively. Through her partnership with Rodan & Fields, the author extends her reach by providing coaching and assistance to entrepreneurs and independent business owners as they build their own financial independence. 

During her twenty-five years of corporate experience, Kaufman held leadership positions at three publicly traded companies. She was awarded the distinction of Professional Certified Coach from the International Coaching Federation and achieved the designation of Certified Leadership Coach through Georgetown University’s esteemed program.

Kaufman is a prolific writer. Her first book, Is This Seat Taken? Random Encounters That Change Your Life, was released in 2011 to national acclaim. She is an active civic and community volunteer, and currently serves as President of her local Rotary Club. Kaufman lives in Dallas, Texas, with her beloved rescued white schnauzer, named LuLu.

Read an Excerpt

Is This Seat Taken?

It's Never Too Late to Find the Right Seat

By Kristin S. Kaufman

Greenleaf Book Group Press

Copyright © 2015 Kristin Kaufman
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-62634-165-4


Laura Ingalls Wilder

Published Destiny

It is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all.

—Laura Ingalls Wilder

Most of us know of Laura Ingalls Wilder through her best-selling series of books, which chronicled her pioneering childhood in the late 1800s. The books were so well loved that they were ultimately made into the television series Little House on the Prairie, which was a staple in most households from 1974 to 1982. What you may not know is that Laura's life was not always the charmed childhood depicted by actor Melissa Gilbert.

Her seemingly idyllic life began in 1867, in a rural area of Wisconsin, where her first book Little House in the Big Woods was centered. In her early childhood, her father, Charles Ingalls, settled in Indian Territory, on land not yet open for homesteading. This experience formed the basis for the Little House series. In the subsequent years of Laura's childhood, her father's restless spirit led them on various moves. From Wisconsin, they moved to Walnut Grove, Minnesota, and then to Burr Oak, Iowa. In 1879, Charles Ingalls accepted a railroad job, which took him to the eastern Dakota Territory, where he and his wife, Caroline, resided for the rest of their lives. There the Ingalls family watched the town of De Smet literally rise up from the prairie.

Once the family was settled, Laura was enrolled in school, worked several part-time jobs, and made many friends. Two months before her sixteenth birthday, Laura accepted her first professional position, teaching three terms in a one-room schoolhouse. She did not particularly enjoy teaching, but from a very young age, she felt a responsibility to help her family financially. As one can imagine, wage-earning opportunities for women in those days were limited. She not only taught school but also worked for the local dressmaker and continued her own studies in high school.

When she was eighteen, Laura met and fell in love with Almanzo Wilder, a bachelor pioneer, who was ten years her senior. At this point, she stopped teaching school and continuing her own studies. This was a pivotal juncture, as she never graduated from high school. They married and achieved great prosperity on their homestead claim. Their prospects seemed bright. They moved to a new home just north of De Smet, and began their life together. A year later, she gave birth to their first child, Rose.

Though their married life began with great promise, the first few years came with many trials. Almanzo became partially paralyzed from a life-threatening bout of diphtheria. He eventually regained nearly full use of his legs, but he needed a cane to walk for the remainder of his life. This setback, among many others, began a series of disastrous events that included the death of their unnamed newborn son, the destruction of their home and barn by fire, and several years of severe drought that left them in debt, physically ill, and unable to earn a living from their 320 acres of prairie land. Many of these trials were chronicled in Laura's manuscript, The First Four Years, which was discovered and published in the early 1970s, after Rose's death.

In 1890, Laura and Almanzo left De Smet and spent time resting at his parents' farm in Minnesota before ultimately deciding to move to Florida. They sought Florida's climate for health reasons, yet they were both used to living on the dry plains and ultimately wilted in the heat and humidity. After a very short time, they returned to De Smet, rented a small house, and began to rebuild their lives. Almanzo became a day laborer and Laura became a seamstress at a local dressmaker's shop. Their hope was to earn and save enough money to once again start a farm.

A few years later, the hard-pressed and financially strapped young couple moved to Mansfield, Missouri, using their hard-earned savings to make a down payment on a piece of undeveloped property just outside of town. They named their homestead Rocky Ridge Farm. It consisted of forty acres and a windowless, ramshackle log cabin. The couple's climb to financial security was a slow process. Initially, their only income came from wagonloads of firewood that Almanzo sold for 50 cents in town, the result of the backbreaking work of clearing the trees and stones from their land. The apple trees they planted did not bear fruit for seven years. Barely able to eke out more than a subsistence living on the new farm, the Wilders were forced to move into nearby Mansfield, where they rented a small house. Almanzo found work as an oil salesman and general delivery man, while Laura took in boarders and served meals to local railroad workers. Their future was uncertain on many levels.

Not too long after the move, Almanzo's parents paid their daughterin-law and son a visit and surprised them with the deed to the Mansfield house they had been renting. This was the economic jumpstart the young couple needed. They sold their house in town and used the proceeds from the sale to complete Rocky Ridge Farm. They moved back to the farm permanently. What began as about forty acres of thickly wooded, stone-covered hillside with a small log cabin evolved into a two-hundred-acre, relatively prosperous, diversified poultry, dairy, and fruit farm and an impressive ten-room farmhouse.

The Wilders were active in various regional farm associations, and they were greatly respected as authorities in poultry farming and rural living. This recognition led to invitations to speak and share their knowledge to various groups around the region. They had achieved a great level of success, by many measures.

Around this time, Laura became inspired by her daughter's budding writing career and began to write herself. In 1911, an invitation to submit an article to the Missouri Ruralist led Laura to accept a permanent position as a columnist and editor with that publication. She also took a paid position with a Farm Loan Association, dispensing small loans to local farmers from her office in the farmhouse. These additional sources of revenue helped the Wilders to build up savings and to continue enhancing their farm and the surrounding areas.

Her column in the Missouri Ruralist, "As a Farm Woman Thinks," soon had a loyal audience. Her topics ranged from home and family to world events and Rose's fascinating world travels, and her own thoughts on the increasing options offered to women during the era. While the Wilders were not wealthy at this stage in their lives, the farming operation and Laura's additional income from writing and the Farm Loan Association provided a stable enough living for them to finally place themselves in Mansfield's middle-class society. Laura's social circle consisted of the wives of wealthy business owners, doctors, and lawyers, and her social club activities took up much of her time.

During this period, Rose heavily encouraged her mother to develop a more notable writing career for national magazines, as she herself had quite successfully accomplished. For some reason, Laura was unable or unwilling to make the leap from writing for these smaller publications to the higher-paying national market.

By the 1920s, after decades of prosperity, Laura and Almanzo began to simplify their lives. They made the decision to scale back the farming operation considerably and Laura resigned from her positions with theMissouri Ruralist and the Farm Loan Association. They hired outside help to take care of the farm work that Almanzo, now in his seventies, could no longer easily manage. A comfortable and worry-free retirement seemed probable for the Wilders as they settled into the golden years of their lives.

Tragically, in 1929, the stock market crash wiped out the majority of their investment portfolio. Though they still owned their home and the two hundred acres on which it resided, they had invested most of their savings in the stock market. Though they had faced many hardships throughout their time together, the reality that decades of grueling work and hard-won savings had evaporated overnight was likely hard to grasp. Their dream of a worry-free and financially stable retirement had been snuffed out in an instant. They became dependent upon Rose as their primary means of financial support, a position they never dreamed they would face.

Losing their life savings, together with the deaths of Laura's beloved mother, Caroline, and sister, Mary, within a three-year period seemed to have prompted Laura to preserve her memories in a life story she called Pioneer Girl. She hoped that her writing would generate additional income and help her to reclaim their financial independence. She solicited Rose's opinion on her writing, as Rose had achieved moderate prominence in literary circles. With Rose's encouragement and facilitation of publishing connections, Little House in the Big Woods was published by Harper and Brothers in 1932. Laura was sixty-four years old.

The initial release was quite successful, so Laura continued to create the series about herself, her family, and their experiences. Her last book, These Happy Golden Years, was released in 1943, when she was seventy-six years old. The writing and ongoing collaboration with Rose brought national acclaim and the money the Wilders needed to recoup the loss of their investments in the stock market.

Since the publication of Little House in the Big Woods in 1931, the books have been continually in print and have been translated into forty languages. Laura's first—and smallest—royalty check from Harper and Brothers in 1932 was for $500, which is the equivalent of approximately $11,000 in 2014 dollars. By the mid-1930s the royalties from the Little House books brought a steady and increasingly substantial income to the Wilders for the first time in their fifty years of marriage. Various honors, huge amounts of fan mail, and other accolades were granted to Laura Ingalls Wilder in the last twenty years of her life.

During their final years together, Laura and Almanzo were frequently alone at Rocky Ridge Farm. Most of the surrounding land had been sold off, but they still kept a few farm animals, and they tended their flower beds and vegetable gardens. Almost daily, carloads of fans would stop by, eager to meet "Laura" of the Little House books. She and Almanzo lived independently and without financial worries until Almanzo's death in 1949, at the age of ninety-two.

Though Laura grieved, she was determined to remain independent and stay on the farm, despite her daughter's constant requests that her mother come live with her permanently in Connecticut. For the next eight years, Laura lived alone. She was a familiar figure in Mansfield, being brought into town regularly by her driver to run errands, attend church, or visit friends. She continued an active correspondence with her editors, many fans, and friends during these final years.

Laura had an extremely competitive spirit going all the way back to the schoolyard as a child, and she had remarked to many people that she wanted to live to be ninety, "because Almanzo had." She succeeded. Laura died in her sleep at her Mansfield farmhouse on February 10, 1957, three days after her ninetieth birthday.

The Laura Ingalls Wilder beloved by generations left a literary legacy all written after she'd turned sixty-four.

Finding Creativity through Crisis

As a child, Laura Ingalls Wilder was by far my favorite author. Though, I also gravitated to the Nancy Drew mysteries and to the adventures of Pippi Longstocking, there was something about the Big Woods, the Ingalls family, and all the eccentric characters in the Little House books that resonated with me. It never occurred to me that Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote those books when she was an elderly woman. In fact, I am quite sure I thought she had written them as a young girl, when she was about my age. It was startling to realize during my research just how late in life she began what would become her legacy defining collection.

Laura Ingalls Wilder's journey is laden with lessons. A resilient spirit in those days was as common as blood and sweat. Government subsidy programs were nonexistent, and the abundance of wealth from which charitable contributions could come was scarce. Thus, when faced with an adversity such as your barn and all your worldly possessions burning to the ground, stalwart strength was expected and honored. There was no time for self-pity or petty envy of another's riches. Her scrappy resolve to plow through each hurdle is humbling. She and Almanzo carved a life out of dust on the prairie and then virtually lost it all at a time in which they thought they would retire. Yet, soldier on they did.

It has been said that necessity is the mother of invention. The impetus for the Little House books was in response to Laura's stark reality of needing to generate income for their retirement. Despite her daughter's interest and encouragement to extend her writing beyond regional publications in previous years, it wasn't until she faced devastating financial hardship that Laura swallowed her fears and insecurities and created what would become her ultimate legacy.

Laura's childhood laid the foundational values that sustained her throughout the rest of her life. The family's hardships, heartaches, loves, and losses were the seeds from which her literary garden grew. As a child and young adult, it is doubtful she ever thought or even dreamed that one day the recollection of her experiences would make her famous and a treasured icon in children's literature. This is one of the greatest lessons her life teaches us. One never knows what the future holds and how the daily repetitive rhythms of life may inform how you ultimately contribute to the world. Our lives are a compilation of moments and memories, and our destiny is most certainly what we choose to create from those experiences. Laura wrote about her childhood and transfixed generations of young girls and boys. In doing so, she wrote her own final chapter, which extended far beyond the Big Woods in which it began.

Alignment Lessons: Make It Real

• Tragedies and hardships are part of life; it is how we confront them that seals our fate.

• Our destiny is what we ultimately create.

• We are a compilation of all the experiences in our life; each one teaches us something new.

• Face your fears, as they can light ways to new experiences and opportunities.

The real things haven't changed. It is still best to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasures; and have courage when things go wrong.

—Laura Ingalls Wilder


Anna Mary Robertson

Grandma Moses

I look back on my life like a good day's work; it was done and I feel satisfied with it. I was happy and contented, I knew nothing better and made the best out of what life offered. And life is what we make it, always has been, always will be.

—Grandma Moses, as quoted in My Life's History, 1951

Anna Mary Robertson had lived eighty-seven years before her life took a dramatic and totally unexpected twist. Eighty-seven years full of joy, sadness, depression, ambiguity, and death. No one could have ever predicted her life would evolve in the manner in which it did.

Anna Mary was born in a small rural community in upstate New York in 1860. She was one of ten children reared in a close-knit family. She had a very close relationship with her father in particular. He was a simple man who loved to take long walks in the woods around their humble home and who viewed the world through a pure and simple lens. His devotion to the outdoors and respect for the natural order of things was his moral and spiritual compass. This was the code in which he reared his family, and this belief system became foundational to Anna Mary and her siblings.

Anna Mary and her nine brothers and sisters were not afraid of hard work. Her five brothers helped with the family farm, and she and her four sisters were taught basic homemaking and domestic skills. They lived a sparse life enriched by the pleasure of simple things, like the morning calls of the mockingbird and the full fireball of the burnt-orange sunset. They wanted for nothing, as they could never miss what they never had.

At only twelve years of age, Anna Mary left the comfort and love of her family to work as what was referred to as a "hired girl" on a neighboring farm. She became a housekeeper and helped a wealthier family with their household chores. What little formal education she received was acquired in a one-room schoolhouse not far from the farm on which she worked. There was little time for fun, frivolity, or outside exposure. She worked as a housekeeper on this farm for more than fifteen years, remaining single, which in that time would have labeled her an old maid.

Miraculously, when she was twenty-seven, a young, strapping man was hired on as a houseboy on the same farm. His name was Thomas Moses. Anna Mary and Thomas courted briefly and fell in love. In 1887, just a few months after meeting, they were married.


Excerpted from Is This Seat Taken? by Kristin S. Kaufman. Copyright © 2015 Kristin Kaufman. Excerpted by permission of Greenleaf Book Group Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xi

Author's Note xiii

1 Published Destiny Laura Ingalls Wilder 1

2 Grandma Moses Anna Mary Robertson 11

3 Kentucky's Unlikely Colonel Harland Sanders 21

4 West Texas Live Wire Barbara Miller 31

5 Overnight Success Ray Kroc 41

6 Prom Addiction to Admirable Legacy Bill Wilson 55

7 Writing a New Legacy Jacqueline Quails 65

8 Providential Purpose Dorothy Winn 77

9 Dancing an Unexpected Life Li Cunxin 87

10 Roaring with Resilience Diana Nyad 97

11 To and From the Ashes Frank McCourt 105

12 Autumn Season Success Ninfa Laurenzo 111

13 Carpool to Credits Kathryn Joosten 121

14 The Calm Couturier Giorgio Armani 129

15 The Ice Cream Man Wally Blume 139

Afterword 147

Sources 159

Suggested Reading for Alignment and Re-Alignment 167

About the Author 171

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Is this Seat Taken?: It's Never Too Late to Find the Right Seat 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is a catalyst for anyone who is considering a new career choice later in life, but fear is keeping them from jumping in feet first. Kristin Kaufman quickly draws readers in by addressing a topic many people have acknowledged but have yet to do anything about it. She profiles the lives of others who found success later in life to inspire, motivate and instill confidence in people to trust in second chances and take a leap of faith.