Thursday, October 13, 2011

A Chance Meeting

A few years ago, while standing in line waiting to attend an event at the Eisenhower building in Washington, D.C., I met a very interesting woman. My family and I were visiting Washington, but this was no ordinary tourist trip to the nation’s capital. We were there at the invitation of our congressman, Roy Blunt. Each year the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (or CCAI, as they are more frequently called – for obvious reasons) hosts “Angels in Adoption”, an annual event that honors individuals, businesses, and organizations who have worked to promote adoption through either their work or their personal life. Some of the Angels are national honorees selected by the CCAI itself, but the majority of attendees are nominated by their representatives or senators to represent their regions. The annual event helps raise awareness about the need to find permanent, loving homes for the many children currently living in foster care or orphanages in the U.S. and around the world. In 2008 Charlie and I were selected as Angels from Southwest Missouri.

So, off to Washington we went with all four kids in tow. Since the kids all had to miss several days of school, I decided to take a cue from some of my homeschooling mom-friends and schedule an abundance of field trips/tours in order for the kids to learn as much as possible about our nation’s history in about 3 ½ days. It was a whirlwind trip that required my purchasing a pair of sneakers mid-way through our visit, but easily the most memorable “vacation” we have ever experienced.

We hit as many of the highlights as possible: the White House, the Capitol, the Pentagon Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery, monuments, the subway, and a few museums. However, the main reason we were there was to attend the Angels in Adoption Gala and its surrounding events. It was at one of these events that I met Marcy. Our trip took place in September 2008 – about a week after John McCain had announced Sarah Palin as his running mate. Political pundits were exhilarated by the implications this election now presented: one way or another, history was about to be made. The Republican Base was instantly reignited while Democrats scrambled to find information to dispute the media’s claims that McCain had chosen Palin in an attempt to court those same women voters that Obama had supposedly alienated by not choosing Hilary Clinton as his running mate. Washington was, essentially, beside itself with excitement. In the midst of all this political drama, our family was trying to form its own viewpoint about the upcoming election. On the one hand, Obama was an amazing speaker, a brilliant academic, seemingly well-liked by his constituents, and a minority. On the other was McCain with his years of experience, moderate viewpoints, and undeniable courage and tenacity – who had just selected a relatively young, unknown woman for his running-mate. I questioned everyone I met in Washington, from our friend who worked in the Justice Department (and was, incidentally, slated by President Bush to become the first woman to head the Civil Rights division) to our friend who works for the NRA to our cabbie. There were so many opinions out there; it truly was an exciting time.

And that is how I met Marcy. We were waiting in line to get security clearance to attend a cocktail reception at the Eisenhower building. Our kids had opted to attend an impromptu “child care” service at the Senate building, with the possibility of a private tour of the Capitol (which they did, indeed, get to take – but that is a topic for another post altogether. Remind me, would you?) The wait for the adults was long and arduous, so naturally we all started to mingle and learn a little bit about one another and what had brought us to the Gala in the first place. I noticed two women who were very fashionably dressed and immediately decided they were my kind of people so I wormed my way over and struck up a conversation with them. Turns out one of my new acquaintances was a former newswoman in Columbus, OH, and was involved in the Obama campaign in Ohio. This being Washington during one of the most exciting presidential election years in recent memory, I naturally asked her why she liked Obama. She ticked off the many qualities he possessed, but the thing that struck me most was the question she asked me.

“Who do your kids like?”

“Well, they like Obama, of course.” (A lot of kids did – and still do. He has kids their age, he’s relatively young, and he plays basketball. Let’s face it: he was much more relatable to them than an aging war hero.)

“Then vote for Obama for your kids.”

I’m sure she didn’t mean it the way I took it – that my vote was a representation of their much too young and uninformed vote. I’m sure she meant something more like, “vote for Obama for the future of your children.” But, I took it for what I did and began to pay a little more attention to Obama than I had previously done.

As the evening progressed, and I began to warm up to Marcy, she asked me another question. “Would your daughter be interested in coming to Columbus and help canvass for the Obama campaign?” (Ohio was a huge “battleground” state at the time.)

Now, those of you who know Charlie and me are probably thinking I politely told Marcy she was crazy and I would never let my firstborn go somewhere, sight unseen, to walk neighborhoods campaigning for a man I wasn’t even sure I wanted to vote for myself. And you would be wrong. Charlie and I actually talked with her more about the possibility of such an experience and, furthermore, presented it to Sarah later on (of course she was interested). It is the one spontaneous thing I ever seriously considered for Sarah to do and am sorry we couldn’t make it come to fruition due to scheduling conflicts. I knew immediately that I liked Marcy - she really is da bomb - and when I introduced her to Sarah the next evening at the Gala the two of them naturally hit it off.

Marcy and I exchanged e-mail addresses and kept in touch throughout the remainder of the campaign. She sent us Obama shirts to wear when we went to see him speak in Springfield, MO three days before the election. We became Facebook friends and she was one of the many out-of-town friends who contacted me after the tornado hit our town (and, with her many connections, she told our city’s story to her friends and acquaintances, which I’m sure helped raise awareness and bring much-needed aid to Joplin). And today, through Facebook, she introduced me to her friend and fellow blogger, Johnna Schell Underwood, who writes the blog, Gratuitous Guidance. On a Facebook post, Marcy said, “So much fun to meet over lattes with the always funny Johnna Schell Underwood, talented mommy blogger who speaks the truth. Very refreshing and a woman to watch!” With a recommendation like that, I had to check this chick out for myself and see what she had to offer. I was not disappointed. Johnna introduces her blog to us with a prominent picture of herself in a cocktail dress, laughing and lounging on what appears to be a hospital bed. In the foreground is a bottle of beer. Yes, this is my kind of stay-at-home-mom-blogger. Not only does this woman possess strong grammatical skills (a requirement for me to read a post all the way through, if you’re keeping track) but she is also funny and hip - and she uses swear words in her posts. Very liberally, I might add. Oh, the joy I experienced as I read her post about manipulative people and how we should really, really try not to fall for their tricks (cause you know that she knows that we all do at some time or another.) Her blog post about the recent passing of Apple’s Steve Jobs inspired me to keep working toward my goals and dreams (hence this post), and the post about her friend, Julie, reminded me of all the amazing and inspiring women and men I myself have met and been fortunate enough to count among my friends and family.

I have never recommended a fellow blogger to my readers (and I know you are out there – so feel free to subscribe to my blog, by the way….), but today, as I read Johnna’s posts, I realized that we all need to support one another, and one of the luxuries that exists as a result of the internet is the opportunity to connect with people we otherwise may never have had the pleasure of meeting. So, do yourselves a favor. Read a couple of Johnna’s posts, and then “pay it forward” – introduce your friends to someone or something new that brings you joy, too. Your world will be a better place just because you did.

Oh, and when you get a chance, check out Marcy's PR firm at so you can see for yourself how talented this woman is.


  1. I was just about to power down for the night when I took one last look at FB. Now my head is filled with so many racing thoughts. I'm overwhelmed by your words Dawn!

    I vividly remember our chance encounter in DC too. It was brutally hot that evening and the security peeps lost all of our info. Standing in that line was only tolerable because we met that cool couple from Joplin, who were the real heroes at that event having opened their home to kids who needed one. I also recall the awesome experience those kids had while we were standing in that awful line, but I digress.

    As the years went by I felt connected to you and yours through the internet. I cheered for Sarah's softball accomplishments and was thrilled to learn she would be attending college in my hometown (Obama's too!) And when the deadly tornado hit Joplin earlier this year I was struck with deep fear and panic. I remember sitting at my laptop praying you would log on to Facebook. You did so quickly. The relief poured through me as I learned you and your family were safe. But my heart ached as I learned you had lost a dear friend. The internet indeed connects us. For that I am grateful.

    Today I met Johnna. The meeting was supposed to be about placing one of my clients. But before long (a minute or 2) we were gabbing like old pals. I love that you found her blog through me and love that you love it! And now I know how well you can weave a story. So I will be reading your blog daily Dawn and Johnna's too, sharing both with those who appreciate great storytelling and admire women who aren't afraid to put themselves out there and tell it like it is!

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for the amazingly, gracious words and recommendation. I can't begin to tell you how much it means to me. I am truly blown away. I so hope our paths meet again soon. It has been way too long.
    My Best, Marcy

  2. Marcy, thank YOU for the kind response! I was just kind of tooling around on the computer when I came across your post about Johnna and, just for fun, I decided to check her out. I enjoyed her writings so much (she really is a refreshing change from the typical "mommy" bloggers!) and then it struck me about how we met and have kept in touch over the years. I didn't mean to put you on the spot or anything (so I'm glad you responded the way you did!), but our friendship is the best way I could think of to illustrate how the internet can connect people. It was fun to re-live those memories - it was truly a memorable experience for our family - so I really enjoyed writing this piece. I think it says so much about who we are as people and how we can use technology to enrich our lives.

  3. I so enjoyed it. It's funny, I use technology all day long for work and love its convenience but you are right, how it enriches our lives is even more incredible.