September 12: National MPN Awareness Day

 

I know my Mom never thought she would see the day that her rare blood cancer actually had its own DAY, but today, September 12 is National MPN Awareness Day dedicated to the disease that she lived with for 20 years. Mom had mylefibrosis which is one of the three blood cancers designated as MPN (myeloproliferative neoplasms). I am grateful that the Cancer Support Community is partnering with the MPN Coalition to help patients and families deal with these mysterious and little known cancers. Mom would be glad, that’s for sure. More information here if you’d like to learn more and help.

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One Day at a Time

Most mornings on the way to work, I buy coffee from Nasir who parks his pushcart at the corner of 9th and Broadway. If you aren’t in NYC, picture a metal cart about five feet across, six feet tall and two feet deep that contains not only the proprietor, but coffee/tea/racks of jelly donuts and bagels, cups, ice and a heater to keep him warm in frigid temps.

This morning I noticed that Nasir had really slimmed down. “How do you stay that way?” I asked, while inhaling the fragrance of a just baked croissant. “Let me tell you,” he said. “Last year, I went to the doctor and my cholesterol was 247 and he warned me to exercise or else. So I started to park my pushcart on the sidewalk earlier and then run back and forth between 8th and 9th street. First I could only do it once. Then 20 minutes.  Now I run a 100 times back and forth every day and my cholesterol is down to 140.” So every morning at dawn, he runs…and it began one block at a time.

Nasir’s story made me think of the God Box.  I’ve heard some people say, that it’s hard to remember to put a message in. I know it’s hard for me, and actually I imagine it’s easier just to keep on worrying and noodling things in my head. (For hours! Why does that make sense?) But if I think of it, as one note at a time, maybe I could learn to ask more often and feel that relief of letting go. One block. One prayer. One smart coffee pal of mine.

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One month. 6,000 books already sold. And almost as many undone to do’s.

First, the good news! “The God Box” launched exactly one month ago today and it is flying off the shelves, both in stores and online and off– an amazing start. Mom’s little box seems to be touching so many and we hope that those who received it as a gift for Mother’s Day yesterday might want to buy copies for friends, family and just anyone who needs the love tucked inside. I traveled to Philadelphia (multiple times), Charlotte, Portland, OR, Pittsburgh, Chicago, and of course, held a bunch of NY events, spoke to at least 25 different audiences, visited bookstores to sign, tweeted, FB’d, blogged, appeared on a dozen radio shows and a couple TV programs, logged thousands of miles and breathed a couple of times. We are so excited and raring to go!

Now, the bad news of what it means to go on a book ‘tour’ of my own design. (Aren’t we our own worst boss?) Here is the list of what I haven’t done for a solid month.

  1. Exercise
  2. Make the bed
  3. Eat salad and drink water
  4. Read the paper with Rocky my dog on my lap (a favorite morning ritual)
  5. Go to yoga class
  6. Fill the car with gas (see yesterday’s post)
  7. Sleep much
  8. Take my winter clothes out of my drawers and closets despite 80 degree temps
  9. Skip dessert
  10. Do you see a pattern here?

So, starting today, for the next phase of what I hope is a lifelong journey with “The God Box”, I went to the gym, made the bed, sat with Rocky, ate oatmeal with skim milk(ok, it’s a start), and had a great night’s sleep. Still stuff on the list but don’t we all have that? What’s on your to do list?

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MONDAYS WITH MOM:The Sparkle in my Step

Do you believe that things happen for a reason? I do. Yesterday I started the day in overdrive. The book is one week from its official launch date and my head was spinning with undone “to do’s.” Did I finish revisions to my play script in time for my mid-day rehearsal? Did I remember to send advance books to friends? Did I write my Monday post for theGodBoxproject.com? No, no and no.

And the big question, did I have a pair of sparkly shoes that would save me from hemming my new dress that I planned to wear to the kickoff at the Coaches Vs Cancer Gala in Philadelphia this coming Saturday? No time. Shoe store closed till 10am. How to fill the precious seconds?

Every Monday, Union Square Park, right near our apartment, becomes a wonderful farmers’ market—flowers, fruits, vegetables. With the book in full bloom, I hadn’t visited it for a while, so I thought I’d walk around and sniff the goodness till DSW opened. That’s when I met Etta.

I had stopped at the wheatgrass stand. I don’t have a cat. I can’t believe people drink the stuff. I buy it as ‘grass decoration.’ (Don’t laugh, it’s only $3 a patch.) But this lovely older woman chatting with the wheatgrass guy, and she looked at me and said, “You have beautiful eyes.” Huh? Only my Mom would have said that to me. “Do you have a juicer?” she asked. “No, I don’t drink this,” I said. She was appalled when I said that I only bought it for its looks. “Give her a shot,” she said to the vendor. “This is Stewart, I am Etta.” And she handed me a plastic shot cup of green liquid. “This tastes like grass,” was the best I could offer. “Gets rid of toxins, swirl it around and it’s good for your gums, good energy!” she grinned.

Etta and I left together, talking and laughing. A new friend. She kept turning to smile and wave as she walked off. Me, too. And I walked back to the shoe store and bought these even though I was already happily walking a foot off the ground. Was it Etta? The wheatgrass chaser? Or…Mom?

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FROM @PINTEREST: My NYC view of springtime

Springtime inspiration viewed from my NYC window….

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

 

 

 

 

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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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sample chapter
Enjoy a free selected chapter from The God Box.
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reading group guide
Invite your book club to join this engaging conversation about Mary Lou’s book.
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printable mini cards
Share these mini note cards or write notes for your God Box.
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mobile app
The God Box app makes it easy to write notes on the go.
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giving back
Ask how Mary Lou can support your local cause with the book and play.
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Come meet Mary Lou and experience The God Box: A Daughter's Story at a venue near you.
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press & praise
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  • "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"
  • "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"
  • "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"
  • "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

Still Hearing my Dad

October 24, 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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