FROM @PINTEREST: pitcher of sunshine

I always try and bring flowers into the office on Monday mornings to start the week off right. They make me happy and create a much more cheerful work environment (not that we need it here, coral colored walls already brighten the office). I have a glass pitcher that I fill with a quick, but pretty, arrangement of flowers.  This picture, I stumbled upon while on Pinterest, made me smile, I just might have to copy this one day.

Find me here: pinterest.com/marylouquinlan

Let’s pin!

(photo credit: @pinterest via curbly.com)

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MONDAYS WITH MOM: Mazda headache

When you read The God Box: Sharing my mother’s gift of faith, love and letting go, you are going to be treated to a dose of my mother’s handwriting AKA “chicken scratch.”  My Mom learned Gregg shorthand at West Catholic High School in the 1940s because that was how secretaries took dictation in the real Mad Men world. Her scribbles are sometimes hard to read, but her intent is clear. In her God Box, Mom was a woman on a mission. With her busy life, she just wanted help, answers, solace or just peace of mind…fast!

What I love about the sample note above is that it tells her backstory in so many ways. The paper was torn from a pad of freebie paper she picked up at a local print shop in Ft Myers. Got to love that she wrote a note to God on paper that says “You’re so special!”  In this particular instance, Mom is asking for intervention in an insurance dispute.

She and Dad had hit a deer while driving in Bucks County, PA (appropriately named) and the tow truck that dragged the Mazda (our car, by the way, which of course made Mom more frantic!), had scraped the back fender while towing. The insurer was only agreeing to cover the front dent from the deer blow and not the rear. So Mom took this piece of paper, which ironically had “Advil” already scrawled at the top—probably for the headache the issue was giving her—crossed it off her shopping list and instead wrote to God to put State Farm on notice.

Mom was so informal and familiar with God that she didn’t feel guilty about sending notes with cross-out’s as long as they were earnest requests. Asking and accepting were all that mattered. The sooner it was in the box, the sooner she could get on with her life. What a gift!

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DAY OF REST: truffles like the Queen

This morning I walked around London for hours and hours with Joe. While on foot, I snapped a photo of these beautiful robin egg blue truffle boxes at Fortnum & Mason. They were made for the “Diamond Jubilee” to mark the Queen’s 60th year of reign of the Monarchy. I figured, why not eat truffles today?! A day of rest should be indulgent, don’t you think? (And I did walk for miles…).

P.S. Robin egg blue is a favorite color of mine…I even started @Pinterest board to showcase this color. (And wait until you see The God Box book cover in person, so pretty…It will be in stores on April 17, including top 300 stores for Barnes & Noble stores!)

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FUN FRIDAY: In London Town


A whirlwind first day in London from the moment the flight left Newark. Thanks to super high winds, the trip was only five and a half hours, the train from the airport, just 15 minutes and moments later, I was having coffee (sorry, needed a hit of caffeine even here in the land of tea!) with a terrific women’s tech marketer Belinda Parmar AKA Lady Geek. Funny how you can live time zones away from a perfect stranger and feel instantly like old friends. Have already shopped a little and narrowly avoided the “wrong way” screeching taxis. Just like home. Can hear Mom saying in my head, “When are you coming back to the US?”

This weekend my husband Joe is the one on stage as he speaks to fellow Haverford College alumni gathered here in tribute to an incredible alum of the class of ’10 (1910, that is.) Philip Noel-Baker won a silver Olympic medal for the 1500 meter event 100 years ago this summer and also the Nobel Peace prize in 1959. The upcoming summer Olympic Games in London seemed the perfect time to do this. Glad to give Philip (and Joe!) a long deserved ovation.

(photo credit: londonhotelsoption.com)

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FROM @PINTEREST: this wonderful jar

I stumbled upon this wonderful jar full of notes on Pinterest. And then I immediately pinned it to my first pinboard, “Boxes, Bottles + Vessels.” What a great upcycled idea for starting a God Box. Each family member could have his or her own container  to write down thoughts, worries and wishes and let them go.

Find me here: pinterest.com/marylouquinlan

Let’s pin!

(photo credit: @pinterest via inchmark.squarespace.com)

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DAY OF REST: Love and Light in the East Village

 

Joe and I met Patti Kelly by accident. But we have become long term friends on purpose.

Spring in the East Village is perfect for exploring the tiny nooks and crannies of what’s known as “Alphabet City”, the blocks of A, B and C and beyond, once the tenement homes of thousands of immigrants. Joe’s great grandparents lived there  in the 1850s and now we live nearby. Today it’s a mix of ultra hip, downtown grunge, dotted with NYU-everything and dozens of terrific little shops and cool restaurants. But it’s still got its edge. I once asked a vendor on St. Mark’s place where I could get a temporary tattoo and he practically seared me with his look of disdain. The East Village we love is as Joe likes to call it, heaven for teenagers.

Anyway, back to Patti. One night we wandered into the open door of Patti’s studio where her large black dog Moon keeps a watchful eye. Her glorious, colorful and cluttered studio was visual lightning on the dark block and so was she. A tiny spitfire of Irish New York, Patti is salt of the earth with a glimmer of mischief thrown in. We told her about our plain glass apartment transoms and our dreams of a special stained glass window. Patti nodded, offered suggestions…and then waited. And waited. It took us four years to find her again, this time, we were serious.

Our apartment overlooks a Gothic church and we felt that stained glass would be a great fit. The first window she designed incorporated not just a Frank Lloyd Wright-ish arts and crafts design, but tiny pieces of gray glass because it reminded her (and now us) of the shock of hair on the forehead of our loved but gone dog Dannyboy. This photo shows another example of her magic. Our friend architect Michael Margulies drew some sketches inspired by the famous Scottish father of arts and crafts design Rennie Mackintosh and we let Patti go loose. She designed this window, including the thistle, the Scottish national flower (my grandfather came to America from Glasgow at age 14.)

Patti is so talented and fun and so good inside and out. Together with Patti, we are happy to bring even a bit of beautiful light that lasts.

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FUN FRIDAY: Old School, New Inspiration

Ever go to your grade school reunion? It’s about a million times better than your high school one because for some odd reason, over time, we look more like we did when we were little. I went to St. Helena’s school in Philadelphia and this Saturday, about 250 of us are going to jam into the auditorium (which also served as our theater/ basketball court/ Brownie meeting locale) for a beef and beer.

The last time I went to one of these, I swear someone called me Mary Louise. No one was allowed to be Tommy or Jimmy, they were Thomas and James or else the nuns would have none of it. When I went to St. Helena’s, there were about 60 to 70 kids in each classroom taught by a single sister who was often fresh out of school herself. I learned that my first grade nun was only 21 when she taught that giant class. Of course, the girls were good. It was the boys who were bad, at least they were the ones most often reprimanded.

I know it’s always an easy joke to talk about having your knuckles rapped by a ruler in Catholic school but really, when I think of how those women worked literally for nothing, doing work that no teacher today would tolerate from a class size/hours perspective, I can only give them a standing ovation. So on Saturday night back in the old neighborhood, I don’t plan to wear a dress like I am wearing in this photo with my Mom, though it sure was cute. My hair’s a little lighter and not quite as curly, but if anyone wants to say “Hi, Mary Louise!”, I’m cool with it. Happy weekend!

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press & praise
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  • "Mary Lou Quinlan has told the story of her mother in a way that entertains, moves and inspires. The thoughts about life and values will stick with you forever."
    – JIM LEHRER, EXECUTIVE EDITOR OF PBS NEWSHOUR
  • "A beautiful story of love, faith and family. It reads like an intimate, familiar prayer."
    – ELIZABETH GILBERT, AUTHOR OF "EAT, PRAY, LOVE"
  • "A wonderful legacy…Keeping a God Box is an incredibly moving and hopeful ritual that we should all consider adding into our daily lives."
    – REBA, MUSICIAN, AUTHOR, ACTRESS
  • "In the slips of paper that carry this sweet story forward, we can see the love in our own families and the great possibilities of simple faith."
    – JEFFREY ZASLOW, COAUTHOR OF "THE LAST LECTURE"
  • "Mary Lou Quinlan shares her mother’s handmade and heartfelt gift of how to persist, believe and move forward with joy."
    – LEE WOODRUFF, AUTHOR OF "IN AN INSTANT"
  • "What a beautiful and profoundly human book....I will keep The God Box in my heart for a long, long time."
    – LAURA SCHROFF, AUTHOR OF "THE INVISIBLE THREAD"
  • "The courage and wisdom from the messages left in her mother’s God Box will inspire you to create a God Box of your own."
    – GAIL SHEEHY, AUTHOR OF "PASSAGES IN CAREGIVING"

The God Box App is shiny new and ready to welcome your cares

December 15, 2017
by Mary Lou Quinlan

Since The God Box book was published in the spring of 2012, so many readers have told me that they started their own God Boxes. I love hearing stories of children creating God Boxes and married couples joining their prayer and cares in a family box. (And my mother would be thrilled!)  A 'real' God box is a constant reminder that we are not in control and that letting go is the first step to finding comfort, hope and relief for life's worries. But did you know that many thousands have gone virtual with their God boxes? To help the many busy ...

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