Be careful what you wish for

How often have we heard the saying, “be careful what you wish for, it just might come true”?

Earlier this month when I learned that John Quinones, co-anchor of ABC News “Primetime” and author of Heroes Among Us: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Choices, was scheduled to speak at the Park City Friends of the Library Luncheon, I was excited to attend for two reasons. The first was to congratulate and thank him on his focus and commitment to finding and sharing stories of selflessness, strength, bravery and inspiration. We can never be exposed to enough stories about people who make difficult choices to help their fellow man. Such reminders reaffirm our faith in humanity. The second reason was a selfish one. I wanted to ask his consideration of lending his voice to my project of sharing stories of ordinary women who made extraordinary choices. Actually, it was to follow-up on a previous request.

The Opportunity

Ironically, three weeks prior to learning of the event, I had sent both a letter and an email to John to ask his endorsement of my work. When the luncheon, an annual tradition for this philanthropic group, was announced I purchased a ticket.

I spent a few hours that morning planning how I might introduce myself in a not so bold and brash way to possibly encourage his interest in my work yet dismiss any possible notion that I might be a stalker.

As I walked into Silver Lake Lodge and signed in at the reception table, it did cross my mind what an honor and joy it would be to one day share the stories of West Point’s Women Graduates with a group of people from my local community. Maybe in a year or two when Porcelain on Steel: Women of West Point’s Long Gray Line is published, I would be invited to speak. In my grandest dreams, I could not have envisioned what transpired in the next hour.

Changes in seasons, changes in expectations

I knew about a third of the attendees from various endeavors and activities in and around Park City. Two older ladies invited me to sit at their table. We shared introductions, how we came to Park City and our mutual love for our mountain community. Snow and sleet fell outside. This is the mud season in the mountains. This is the transition time between mountain biking and hiking, and skiing and snowshoeing.

Barbara Bretz, co-president of the library board welcomed everyone to the luncheon. She shared its history and traditions, and its focus on the future.

Importance of flexibility

Barbara then offered another familiar saying that sometimes the best made plans go astray. John had boarded a plane from the east coast early Monday morning and arrived in Salt Lake City that afternoon for this Tuesday presentation. Barbara began reading from a heartfelt note she had received from John to those in attendance. He shared his own disappointment and apologies for having to return immediately to the east coast at the request of ABC executives and the President. He also conveyed his excitement that it is not too often one gets invited to the White House. He hoped that he would be invited back at a later date. Barbara concluded by saying that we were glad he was returning for a celebration rather than to cover a national tragedy.

Admittedly, I was disappointed when Barbara explained the details surrounding John’s boomerang trip. But the candor and genuineness of her remarks including John’s apology quickly dispelled any immediate disappointment. She invited everyone to buffet line.

Carpe Diem

Shortly after returning to my table, Barbara approached me and asked if I would be comfortable sharing my project in place of John’s presentation. Next to her a small chorus of the women at my table, now members of my newly established PR firm, encouraged me to seize the opportunity. In unison they said, “We would love to hear about your project. You must do it.”

I spent the next 15 minutes trying to moderate my consumption of lunch and beverage while putting together some semblance of a structure about my writing experiences and publishing odyssey.

As people finished their meals, Barbara returned to the podium, introduced Heroes Among Us and read the first chapter. She than introduced me. I came to the luncheon wanting to meet John and instead I got to “be” John.

It was a grand dream come true immediately. An opportunity to share with 150 people from my own community my desire and contribution to the body of knowledge about the importance of strong women role models.

Sometimes you get much more than you ask  for – immediately.


21 Responses to Be careful what you wish for

  1. caleb cage October 14, 2009 at 2:17 pm #

    Wow. This is fantastic! Congrats on a great opportunity.

  2. facebook-667959131 October 14, 2009 at 4:34 pm #

    I'm glad I was a silent helper in the process 😉

  3. donnamcaleer October 14, 2009 at 4:38 pm #


    Thanks so much for your continued support and encouragement.

  4. julieglusker October 14, 2009 at 5:45 pm #

    This chain of events could not have been more fortuitous – and your agility in answering the call makes you worthy of representing the biographies of the many amazing women whose lives you chronicle. Bravo!

  5. MarePiper October 14, 2009 at 5:46 pm #

    Donna, please accept my compliments on your presentation at the luncheon yesterday. You were witty, inspirational, well spoken, and absolutely charming. I was disappointed when told John Quenones would not speak, but not for long. You were a joy to listen to. I dare say if Mr. Quenones speaks at the next luncheon, it is your big shoes he will need to fill. Thank you! Cheers, Mare Piper

  6. Name October 14, 2009 at 6:13 pm #

    AWESOME story Donna!! I especially liked how you mentioned that you got to be John. “It was a grand dream come true immediately”: Remember that not everyone has gotten recognized for greatness in their own home town. Too bad that we all can't all see the “video” of this talk. I am sure that other talks will follow in what may be larger forums, but none will be grander than this one.

  7. Name October 14, 2009 at 6:14 pm #

    Sometimes the reward for our efforts come from unexpected places: this is a nice example of that. Keep pushing!

  8. donnamcaleer October 14, 2009 at 6:25 pm #

    You always offer sage advice. I am eternally grateful.

  9. donnamcaleer October 14, 2009 at 6:26 pm #

    Mare, Thank you. I am humbled by your compliments.

  10. donnamcaleer October 14, 2009 at 6:27 pm #

    Thank you for your steadfast support, counsel, edits and friendship.

  11. bbretz October 14, 2009 at 7:14 pm #


    Just checked out your site and got a kick out of reading about myself being a “key player” in your Grand Dream. I've heard nothing but compliments and kudos for your spur of the moment presentation. I think we will all look forward to watching your progress with the book. Best of luck.

  12. suzellemccullough October 15, 2009 at 12:45 am #

    Donna…your spontaneous presentation at the luncheon was spectacular! Very informative, and loved your deprecating sense of humor. Wish you well with your book. Thanks for sharing your story. Suzelle McCullough

  13. edruggero October 15, 2009 at 9:08 am #

    Bravo Zulu (that's US Navy talk).
    They say luck is where opportunity meets preparation. You've done the work; you're passionate about your topic and eager to share that passion with others. Your site looks great and you're doing good work.
    Keep up the fire (that's US Army talk)

  14. donnamcaleer October 15, 2009 at 10:02 am #

    Suzelle, I so appreciate your kind words.

  15. donnamcaleer October 15, 2009 at 10:03 am #

    You made it all happen and really stoked the fire within.

  16. donnamcaleer October 15, 2009 at 10:10 am #

    That preparation is the product of your mentoring. No book is ever written alone by the author, especially one of this nature. You have been there since day 2 of this journey. Thank you.

  17. maryruth October 15, 2009 at 12:05 pm #

    As your military training taught you, readiness is a prime factor in the success of any project AND YOU WERE READY (AND ABLE)! I have no doubt this is a giant step forward—EXCELSIOR !

  18. cindymeyer October 15, 2009 at 6:07 pm #

    Donna- I don't think “john Q” could have matched your presentation. Words are very powerful and you are just amazing. You are certainly an inspiration to me as well as our community.I look forward to reading your book.

  19. donnamcaleer October 15, 2009 at 11:39 pm #

    Thank you Cindy. I still hope we have the opportunity to hear John Q's presentation.

  20. patricefgay October 16, 2009 at 10:29 pm #

    Absolutely Incredible experience. You floored them I just know it!!

  21. patricefgay October 17, 2009 at 2:29 am #

    Absolutely Incredible experience. You floored them I just know it!!