Women Who Inspire: Mary Lou Quinlan

Screen Shot 2013-05-17 at 6.24.52 PM.pngI have had many jobs. Some I absolutely loved, while others I literally dreaded. I’m not going to share which ones gave me the greatest joy or the biggest ulcers, but what I am going to say is that at 43 years old, I am now on a path where I’ve been choosing life experiences that are fun and fulfilling and not fretful and frustrating.
Case in point. This past week, the incredibly inspiring Mary Lou Quinlan, who is a brilliant marketer, gifted speaker, writer and author invited me to be one of her guests at a luncheon for Gilda’s Club where she was a featured guest speaker. Founded in honor of Gilda Radner, Gilda’s Club is a place where cancer patients and their families can go for support during and after their treatment for all forms of the disease. The event was truly awe inspiring – with survivors eloquently sharing their personal stories and how Gilda’s club has impacted their family’s lives for the better. As a bonus, feature film star and Gilda’s club ambassador Emma Stone–who I now love more than ever–hosted the festivities and shared how she’s been personally touched by the disease. Stone’s mom, who attended the luncheon with her uber talented daughter, is a breast cancer survivor and Emma shared how she’s visited with children of cancer patients at Gilda’s Club’s Noogieland and Camp Sparkle.
Mary Lou, who is currently on a nationwide tour performing a one woman show called “The God Box,” (based on her best selling memoir), had all of us smiling through tears as she talked about the incredible bond she shared with her own mom – who lost a valiant battle to blood cancer. Mary Lou also talked about her own cancer scare a few years ago and thanked the incredible women who saved her life and provided support while she was going through her recovery (they were all seated at our table).
While Mary Lou has spent most of her life connecting with women and sharing what they are looking for in brands (she’s the founder of Just Ask A Woman), she now shares her personal story in a one woman show that she performs at hospitals, churches, hospice centers and theaters nationwide. She also gives commencement addresses, is a frequent keynote speaker and still works with major brands, but no matter what she does or where she goes, she finds fulfillment in all that she pursues.
When we chatted before the event, Mary Lou shared that she was going to be performing at a children’s hospital in the coming weeks in honor of a nurse who had reached out to her after seeing her perform “The God Box.” The nurse sadly passed away shortly after Mary Lou met her, but touched so many lives that Mary Lou will be doing a special performance of “The God Box” at the children’s hospital in her memory.
And that’s the power of doing what you love. Those stressful work situations all seem insignificant and trivial when you are finally pursuing her passion. Mary Lou has managed to combine her incredible gift as a speaker with her new mission – to share her mother’s incredible message of hope, love and healing with the world. If you have the opportunity to see The God Box, I am sure you will laugh, cry and love it just like I did and if you’d like to read Mary Lou’s beautiful tribute to her mom, you can buy her book here.