Airing Worries, Whining and Women

Today I was interviewed by Valerie Smaldone on WOR News Talk Radio. Valerie is a great friend who invited me to her studio for a wide-ranging interview about my recent article in Real Simple, my new audio podcast Whine at 9 and of course, Just Ask a Woman. An interview that can take me from tears to laughter in less than 10 minutes…well, that’s what I call talk radio at its finest. Enjoy!

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What Women Worry About

My article “Inside the God Box” in the November issue of Real Simple magazine was a joy to write since I was able to share the story of my mother’s secret weapon against life’s worries. I knew I’d feel a sense of relief, just from telling the tale. But what I didn’t expect was the outpouring of reaction from women searching for a tool or path to release them from worries of their own.

I’ve received dozens of beautiful emails…and even read blogs of readers who acknowledge the struggle of keeping all their worries inside while trying to keep all the balls in the air. Women who want solutions to stresses related to their kids, their bills, their health, their relationships. One stranger wrote to me that she’d been searching for work for six months and asked if I’d put her hope in my God Box. Humbled, I did…but I felt sad to know how many of us walk the earth, mulling our worries over and over like old coins in our pockets.

It’s not that we didn’t know this after interviewing so many women over the years at Just Ask a Woman. It’s just that I didn’t realize how forthcoming women would be, even to the invisible face of a magazine writer or the silent acceptance of a little box that holds their prayers.

I do hope that my article in Real Simple helps more people let go. But more than that, I wish that women knew they aren’t alone. There’s always someone to listen.

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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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February 29, 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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