Taking my heart to Ireland

This week I am setting out on a great adventure, one that my husband Joe and I have planned for nearly two years. Our goal was to bring my one-woman play “The God Box, A Daughter’s Story” to an extended tour of performances in Ireland and now it’s real. Below are the facts though at the m0ment, I am more consumed by my feelings.Clover-Green-Leafs-Water-River-214x161

October Tour Schedule
10/13 Dunamaise Arts Centre PORTLAOISE
10/14 The Everyman CORK
10/15 Watergate Theatre KILKENNY
10/21 Siamsa Tire, TRALEE
10/22 Lime Tree Theatre LIMERICK
10/27 Hawk’s Well Theatre SLIGO
10/28 ROSCOMMON Arts Centre
10/29 Backstage Theatre LONGFORD
10/30 Pavilion Theatre DUN LAOGHAIRE outside DUBLIN.
All shows begin at 8PM. All tickets available through the theatres at 18 euros/15 concession and all proceeds support Local Hospices through the Irish Hospice Foundation.
So, those are the facts. Here are my feelings. My heart is bursting with expectation, hopes and memories of my mother and father. Joe and I love Ireland so much. We’ve visited over 20 times over the years and I can almost inhale the sweetness and grace of that God’s green gift to us. I cannot help but wonder what my parents would say to the idea that I am sharing our family’s story of love and loss throughout the homeland of both their own mothers. I can only know that I will bring my heart to the stage every night and that the hugs I may give and receive on this beautiful Isle will stretch all the way to heaven. Hands on, Ireland! Joe will be with  me and Martha too and of course, Mary! Here we come!

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What Makes Mom “Mom”

Sometimes our mother’s quirks are what makes them so memorable. Here is one of my Mom memories. What little odd things does or did your Mom do?

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Touched by an Angel

This weekend, I pay tribute to Sister Alice Edward Strogen, SSJ, longtime chaplain on the oncology ward of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. She died over a year and a half ago and though we never met, I can never forget her. And I promised I would bring the show to the aid and comfort of the patient families she so dearly loved. On March 9, 10 and 11, I will be performing “The God Box, A Daughter’s Story” in Philadelphia theaters in her honor. We will dedicate all ticket proceeds to a Tribute Fund in her name to support Spiritual Care services at CHOP. I have only one regret: that she will not be there to see it. But then again…surely she will. It’s a chance to give back a little to a woman who gave her life to love.

Here are details of the shows:  www.giftofchildhood.org/godbox  Tickets available at the door while supplies last.

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Losing Your Mary

Christmas is softening New York City…literally. A dusting of snow has cheered even the crustiest among us who can’t help but whisper, ‘Isn’t it beautiful?’

But the sparkle of new fallen snow can cloak feelings that are sharper this time of year…the keen edge of missing those we’ve loved and lost.

I received this touching letter today from a God Box reader, a woman who lost her Mary too.

Dear Mary Lou,

   I just finished reading your book The God Box. It really touched my heart in a special way. I lost my own mother, also named Mary two years ago.  My nickname for her was Marmie too. She was a devoted Catholic who reminds me of your mom with her continual prayers. I always had her praying for me – I thought her prayers worked better then mine! We were also best friends like you and your mom. What’s uncanny is they had the same blood disorder. I watched my own mother go through the same lab draws, blood transfusions and chemotherapy as your mom. Your book really helped me to know I’m not alone in the pain of losing your best friend who in turn is your mother. It helped me continue to grieve. Thank you so much.

God bless you!

C. 

Dallas, Texas

 

Enjoy this lovely season but please remember to look out for those in your life who are feeling a little lost or left behind in the bustle. There are never enough hugs. No matter how many Christmases go by.

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You CAN go home again

In “The God Box” I wrote about my beloved Dad, Ray Finlayson. I only wish he could see what I have discovered– the grave of Dad’s great- great grandparents Alexander Finlayson and Margaret MacAllester in the far, far north of Scotland. I walked the street where they lived on the edge of the North Sea and imagined Margaret scanning the water each night for Alexander, a ship’s pilot on the rocky coastline. I do believe she was watching out for me too because St. Peter’s Church where they were married and finally laid to rest– now only ruins from the 1200s– had been closed for the past six years. We planned just to peer through the locked iron gate. It reopened for the first time the day before we got there. I walked into the churchyard and straight to this stone as if they called me over.  I was so grateful to finally find them. But my father in law Tom Quinlan said, “Oh no, it is they who are happy. They have been waiting a long, long time for you.”

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Bring The God Box to your Community!

Bring The God Box to your Community!

I am sticking to my promise to spend this summer off the road but planning the next seasons of The God Box show. Each day I speak with amazing charities about how I can help them raise needed dollars for cancer care, hospice, healthcare and education. How about your special cause?

So often I hear, “When are you coming to the southwest?” Or “how come you haven’t been to (fill in the blank)? Here’s my answer: Just Ask! If you are associated with a school, a hospital, a hospice, or a women’s group, please write to me at marylou@thegodboxproject.com  Describe your organization, location, whether you are interested in the full play or a special book reading/speech and I can share details of what it takes. Simply put, you get the audience and we bring the show. Our team works with yours to make an experience that your community will always remember. The ticket revenue goes straight to your charity, with only minimal staging costs deducted (and if you are far from NYC, travel for me and our technical director.) I take no fee.

Check out the play on this site under ‘performance.’ Bring The God Box to your town in Fall ’13 or Spring ’14. (And a hint: If you live in the sunny south/southwest/west coast, talk to this New York girl about a January or February show.) Hope to see you!

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The God Box Inside You

I have been speaking lately about how with time and effort, our careers can evolve to reveal and fulfill our purpose in life. Janet D. Garraty, founder and CEO of Go Jane News, was In a recent audience of women gathered by the Chamber of Commerce of South Jersey. Her review of my talk touched me so much, I had to share. Hoping like Jane, you discover the God Box your Mom left you. Read Janet’s post HERE.

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Thankful for Mary

This morning I walked over to St. Francis Xavier Church to the tiny room upstairs called “The Mary Chapel.” I wanted to attend morning Mass because today, May 29th is the 7th anniversary of my mother’s death. The Mary Chapel lives up to its name. As humble and warm, inviting and hopeful as she was. There are two stained glass windows, each capturing a moment of the Blessed Mother’s life, both donated long ago by the ‘Ladies Sodality.’ I love that.

And the people who come each morning are a mix of what makes our neighborhood beautiful—diverse in age and background, unified in their shared need for peace, even as the growl of NYC construction and traffic pierce in the silence. Inside, we are one, each asking aloud for help—for someone sick, for homeless people, for lost souls. My request was one of thanksgiving for the gift of my Mary.

The priest said that sometimes God speaks to us in subtle ways, little ways. My Mom’s handwritten notes, her helpful sayings, her soothing voice, her ready laughter—that’s what I hear in the subtle quiet of the chapel. And in my heart always. Mom once wrote to me, “You will always be in my God box.” You, too, Mare… you too.

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Now, what?

Do you ever feel that, just as you have accomplished something, people ask, “Now, what?” Happens to me all the time. “What’s your next book?” “Now what are you doing?” My first instinct is to want to fill in their blank with more goals. As I say in my one woman play, “pen, paper, check, check, check, that’s me!” And if I don’t have an ambitious answer, I feel that I am letting someone down.  I do have some terrific plans in the works for the fall God Box tour.

But sometimes, especially as this long-awaited summer finally arrives, it’s okay to be grateful for “now.” My friend, director and co-writer Martha Wollner always tells me to “pay yourself on the back.” Martha literally makes me stop and put my hand over my shoulder and give a good pat. I laugh but it’s true that too many of us don’t stop to acknowledge what’s good. Instead, we look in the mirror and wonder why we haven’t done more. It’s great to set high goals but it’s also important to take a breath.

I am so proud that The God Box Project has raised more than $150,000 for cancer, hospice, women and family causes and education. We have helped thousands of people find peace and hope even in loss. And we have made so many new and wonderful friends along the way. Let’s celebrate the ‘now’ and let the ‘next’ come in good time.

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The God Box in the Greenville News!

The God Box made the news in Greenville, SC! Read the article HERE.

Excited for tonight’s performance at 7 PM at the Warehouse Theater. If you are interested in the show, or know someone who lives in the area that may be, visit HERE for more ticket information.

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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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  • "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"
  • "A beautiful story of love, faith and family. It reads like an intimate, familiar prayer."
    – ELIZABETH GILBERT, AUTHOR OF "EAT, PRAY, LOVE"
  • "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 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

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

December 14, 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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