My Mother’s Gift

Off and on, people ask me how I got into this “listening to women” business and while it’s natural to point to my ad career, or my appreciation for female consumers’ power, the real answer is my mom. She taught me how to listen and to find out what was inside other people, just by paying attention to the unspoken needs that can go undetected.

But what I never admitted before was how my mom secreted away her what she heard, the pleas for cures, fears, worries and tears, in something she called her “God Box.” It was a little trinket box, actually a series of them, where she’d stow away her handwritten petitions on behalf of anyone in need, whether family or a stranger. After she died, we discovered that she’d kept all those boxes, filled with hundreds of random scraps of every mountain and molehill we’d ever confided to her over 20 years. Listening to what people want is one thing; entrusting their worries to a higher power, without even asking for recognition, well, that was my mom.

This month in Real Simple magazine (November issue now on newsstands), I am giving her a standing ovation in an article called “Inside the God Box.” I loved her with all my heart. Now all I can do is share this story with anyone out there who might be looking for a way to turn listening into loving, even if it’s as small a gesture as a prayer written on a “While you Were Out” slip.

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April 13, 2024
by Mary Lou Quinlan

A look at an early production of WORK


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The God Box Goes Global!

“The God Box” has grown to include an app, audio book, philanthropic venture and solo show performed by Mary Lou across the US. Now The God Box Project goes global to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
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