FROM @PINTEREST: Morning walk with Ghandi

I took this photo this morning of the lovely sculpture of Ghandi striding through the Union Square garden in NYC. Peaceful, calming,hopeful in springtime.

I added this to my  on @Pinterest here. Join me there.

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DAY OF REST: God Bless Reba!

Put your cowboy boots up on the coffee table, wear a little sequined something and tune in to CBS tonight at 8PM EST to the 47th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards. The event is dubbed Country Music’s Party of the Year and it will be hosted by country music legend Reba McEntire who is part of the God Box project.

She kindly shared these words about The God Box:

“Mary Lou Quinlan’s mother left a wonderful legacy when she wrote such heartfelt prayers and wishes for the people in her life. It is an incredibly moving and hopeful ritual that we should all consider adding into our daily lives.”

Signed copies of the book will be given to all the celebrities appearing in the telecast. Just think, Taylor Swift or Kenny Chesney could be reading the God Box this week or giving it as a gift for Mother’s Day. How cool is that?

And to Reba, star of the night and favorite singer, actress, musician for millions, thank you. You are a dream come true! Enjoy, everyone!

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FUN FRIDAY: With God from Head to Toe

Okay, this is a bit of a stretch, but today I am working on God-themed projects day and night. By daylight, we are sending out our first e-newsletter about “The God Box” and responding to some wonderful early reviews.

Then after dark, Chelsea and I head to the premiere of “God Save My Shoes”, a new documentary about women’s infatuation with their shoes. Oddly enough, I am actually in the film. Most of the women in the film are head over heels (forgive me) for their Christian Louboutin’s, some squirreling away as many as 1200 pairs. I’m featured as a consumer expert, analyzing the psychology of why women feel the way they do about their shoes. The crew shot the interview in my office and I happened to mention women’s habits of stowing multiple backup shoes under their desks. The producer asked, “Do you have any? “  So I dove under my desk and came up with six motley pairs of shoes, ranging from sandals to sneakers to Croc’s, not exactly designer wear. That embarrassing discovery is in the movie!

So, what’s the connection between the two stories? Mom and I shoe-shopped all the time. We preferred discount stores so I loved to treat her to great deals that she could bring home to model for Dad. Even though Mom favored the comfy sandals that suited her Florida retired lifestyle, she always liked a little flash– the Lucite heel, the sparkly bling. Guess the connection is…a woman can never have too many shoes…or too much faith.

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FUN FRIDAY: A Confession

Okay, so my upcoming book is about how my Mom taught me to let go. And with just one day standing between me and the delivery of my first actual finished book, I am a ball of nerves. I never had a baby so it’s hardly fair to even breathe the comparison but I feel as like I’m anticipating the delivery of a brand new baby book. Except this baby is on a slow truck coming from Minnesota. Other shipments of books are on their way to bookstores and PR folks but for whatever reason, their trucks have already sped to their destination, and here I sit, tick, tick, tick till tomorrow.

So to calm down, I thought I would take a peek at my garden. Spring is on a fast track in Pennsylvania and the daffodils are already looking blasé since they’ve been up for a week with the warm weather. And it looks like the May azalea and wisteria are ready to give the daff’s an early run for their money. Now I am staring at the dirt wishing them all to grow faster because a newspaper photographer is interested in shooting my Mom’s garden but only when the flowers are in full bloom. Will they bloom before the books hit Barnes & Noble? Can I cheerlead the peonies into full glory ASAP?

The irony of wishing this all hurry-up stuff is crazy. Mom was all about enjoying life, accepting what came her way. But then again, she sure could stuff her God Box full of “please’s” when she wanted something really bad. So, happily maybe I am my mother’s daughter, in more ways than I know.

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DAY OF REST: We’re so lucky

There are so many things to feel awful about in the world today. Wars, violence, terrible diseases, families torn apart, where to even end the list of tragedies and worries? Yet, it’s easy to find myself complaining about some small inconvenience or setback.

So my husband Joe and I have started something to remind ourselves of real VS imagined concerns.   Joe is a proud son of Ireland (I suppose my Scottish heritage from Dad makes me a half daughter but I am wholeheartedly head over heels in love with the Emerald Isle), so this weekend gone green seems the right time to share our mantra: “We’re so lucky!”

Yes, we have family illnesses, yes, we have had loss and worries but we want to remind ourselves how truly blessed we are to have wonderful people in our lives, to have the chance to do work we love, to be alive. I guess it might seem wishful or corny but you’d be surprised how this simple reminder puts a lot of gratitude and a little luck in every day.

(photo credit: republicdomain.com)

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FUN FRIDAY: the secret to “saying no”


Say Yes. You can always say no later.”  Mary Finlayson

Among my bad habits is the tendency to say “Yes” too quickly. “Yes, I’ll volunteer !”  “ Yes, I’ll fly there even though it’s a one-stop and I don’t get in till midnight!” “Yes! Did I say ‘Yes’ fast enough?”

I guess some might say that I’m a pleaser because I’d generally rather make people happy than tick them off. My Mom was familiar with this quirk of mine because I used to call her moaning that I’d agreed to something that I regretted.

Both my parents were much better at protecting their personal time and space. If Dad wanted to bail out of a crowded event, Dad would just slowly slide his chair inch by inch, closer and closer to the exit until he silently vanished, avoiding the whining “Why are you leaving so soon?” goodbye.

My Mom was quicker to the punch. She hated being forced into a yes that left a pit in her stomach. So Mom came up with her own mantra, “Just say yes. You can always say no later.” It’s not that she wasn’t telling the truth. She often stuck with her yes. But occasionally, it was the perfect way to deal with others’ on-the-spot requests. I have to say that it works. All the guilt is delayed and the somehow the ‘no’ lands softer with the passage of time.

Maybe you can try it out this weekend. “Yes, I’ll go with you to that painful 6am spinning class on Saturday” and then, “Whoops, the alarm didn’t go off!” And snooze your morning away. You might not ever do this but it’s nice to know you can. Mom said so.

 

(photo credit: http://welcometoourreality.blogspot.com/2011/09/crossing-fingers.html)

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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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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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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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  • "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"
  • "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"
  • "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 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
  • "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"

Still Hearing my Dad

October 1, 2014
by Mary Lou Quinlan

One of the most beautiful lines in Alice McDermott’s newest book “Someone” traces a daughter’s relationship with her Dad: “with my heart pinned to my father’s sleeve.” Stopped me in my tracks. That’s how I loved my Dad.  Since dancing on his shoes as a girl, I never stopped following in his footsteps, as I did in this photo taken when Dad was 88. I cherish his memory. Ray Finlayson always knew what to say to his only daughter.   How many teenagers despair in the mirror, dreading they will never measure up?  Dad...

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