Ever think you are becoming more and more like your Mom?

If you are facing Mother’s Day without your Mom, this blog that The New York Times featured today on Motherlode might help. I find that discovering more of my Mom in me, year by year, is a comfort and in a small way, like having her back again.http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/05/09/becoming-my-mom/

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All about family: Family Circle!

Big thank you to Family Circle for including The God Box in the May issue under “Lit Crit” as recommended reading. So cool!

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Right now I can hear my Mom’s voice in my ears as I watch the clock and calendar move toward April 17, the official publication date of “The God Box.“A watched pot never boils.” “Let it go. Give it to God.” “Put it in the God Box.”

Mom knew when she saw my foot tapping wildly under the desk (just as hers did, by the way!), that I was anxiously trying to make something happen. I am guilty of trying to press my willpower into service when I really, really want something. And here’s what I really hope for right now. I really hope that this little book will go straight to the hearts of millions of people. I hope in some way it will bring comfort and peace to those who have lost someone they love…that it will bring needed relief and smiles to a worried world…and that it might inspire others to start their own God Box ritual and legacy. I hope that its success will contribute in a big way to the war against cancer—where I am dedicating the proceeds, among other local causes. And most of all, I hope for something that I will just have to trust comes true: that Mom will be proud and know that I have tried to tell her story with the best I’ve got.

All that said, the only way that all this can happen is if people buy the book. (Sharing your copy is wonderful, but everyone ought to have their own!). So, as is tradition on ‘Opening Day’ of a new book, I ask that tomorrow you invite your personal social circles to order it on amazon http://www.amazon.com/The-God-Box-Sharing-Mothers/dp/1608323609/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1334601082&sr=1-1 .

Or ask them to head to their local Barnes and Noble and find it on the big Inspirational Mother’s Day table (tell them to order more if they are sold out!)or for bulk quantities, go to 800 CEOREAD.com for discounted quantities and great service for groups: http://800ceoread.com/book/search/KW/DE/Hardcover%2CPaperback%2CMass+Market+Paperbound/The+God+Box+Quinlan/1

Every book bought that day drives the opening rankings which is what inspires booksellers, media folks and others to pay attention and build greater reach.

And if your pals like the book, please ask if they’d post a review on amazon.com, again invaluable for readers.

More than anything, I want to say thank you to an amazing group of people who have been by my side, guardian angels, day by day for months bringing their own creativity and heart and skill to the launch of this labor of love: Chelsea Castner, Lissa Lowe, Rachel Cost, Jennie Willink, Susan Kittenplan, Martha Wollner, Kristin Brewer, Michael Sullivan, David Broad, Tony Chow, Phillip Ting, Dennis Clevenger, Julie Vetter, Jude Lutge, Kathryn Whyte, Mark Laita, Beth Feldman, Leslie Norden, Maggie Howley, Bryan Carroll, Lari Bishop, Sheila Parr, Alan Grimes, Jenn McMurray, Abby Kitten and Tanya Hall and likely many hands that touched this book with their talent. Thank you from the bottom of my heart, Hands on, Mary Lou.

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MONDAY WITH MOM: Holding On and Letting Go

I just received the very first copy of “The God Box” from the printer. I look happy because I am. But inside, I feel so much more.

I have worked on this story in one way or another since my Mom died in 2006. First, it was just a little family tale I shared, then an article in Real Simple magazine and then beginning January of 2010, a full-fledged commitment to what’s grown to be The God Box Project. The past year and a half have been the most intense, digging back through my memories, back through the little scraps of paper she left behind. I’ve laughed and cried and best of all, reconnected with Mom in the process.

Writing about my family has been one of the most rewarding , difficult and joyful things I’ve ever done. The reward is that I’ve started to dream about my Mom. I was always a vivid dreamer-full color, action, music!- and yet for years after  I lost Mom, she never turned up at night. But while writing this book, she’s front and center on my pillow, showing up in all kinds of happy, funny, beautiful moments, as if she were just part of my life. So, while some friends have commented, “I could never re-live such a sad time in my mother’s life,” it’s actually been rejuvenating for me, like having her back every day.

The difficult part of creating this book is that I want it to be perfect, as she was to me. I want to honor her legacy and tenderness for my brother and his family and for her many friends. Knowing that it’s printed and real, means it’s time to let it go and believe that it is enough. Mom was never about perfection. She was just about love.

And if the God Box helps others learn from her life and perhaps start their own God Boxes….well,  that is the happiest thing of all. Here’s to you, Mom. Hands on.

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DAY OF REST: No Choice

Sunday’s are always my clean up days. The kitchen, the closets, the garden. My puttering  and polishing instinct kick in and in an oddly busy way, I feel incredibly peaceful.

But this Sunday turned out differently than I expected. I thought that I would have received my new baby book yesterday but unfortunately, it didn’t arrive. Bummer. I tried to stare the Fed Ex truck into pulling into the driveway but it wasn’t to be. But I like to believe that things happen for a reason. Maybe if the book had come, right now I’d be obsessing over every page and image. Or I’d be thinking, “Why didn’t I write about that?” Or, “I wish I had added that friend’s name into the acknowledgements?”

That’s how my brain works. How could I have done it better?

So, maybe this is a sign from Mom. She would have said, “Maybe this was meant to be. Maybe you needed a day to just not do anything”. Okay, I accept that. Does cutting some forsythia to hurry spring into our house count? Looking forward to a fresh week of The God Box.

Patiently yours, Mary Lou

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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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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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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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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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My mother/daughter memoir is one step closer

Exciting day! Page proofs are in for my upcoming mother/daughter memoir The God Box: Sharing my mother’s gift of faith, love and letting go. Today is my last chance to review the book before it goes to press. Here’s a glimpse…. On one hand, I could keep reviewing it a million times. On the other, this is a way to try  out my mother’s lesson of learning to let go! One step closer to publication which will be April 17, in plenty of time for Mother’s Day gift giving. A hint.

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sample chapter
Enjoy a free selected chapter from The God Box.

reading group guide
Invite your book club to join this engaging conversation about Mary Lou’s book.

printable mini cards
Share these mini note cards or write notes for your God Box.

mobile app
The God Box app makes it easy to write notes on the go.

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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  • "What a beautiful and profoundly human book....I will keep The God Box in my heart for a long, long time."
  • "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."
  • "A wonderful legacy…Keeping a God Box is an incredibly moving and hopeful ritual that we should all consider adding into our daily lives."
  • "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."
  • "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."
  • "A beautiful story of love, faith and family. It reads like an intimate, familiar prayer."
  • "Mary Lou Quinlan shares her mother’s handmade and heartfelt gift of how to persist, believe and move forward with joy."

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

January 19, 2021
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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