Lunch Bag Notes: Everyday Advice From a Dad to His Daughter

Overview

Sometimes Father does know best . . .

Looking for a little advice on dealing with a difficult situation in your life or just want some help figuring out what to do with your talents and dreams? You’ll find plenty of gentle, loving wisdom in Lunch Bag Notes.
Ann Marie Parisi and her dad, Al Parisi, share the fatherly advice and support that helped Ann Marie survive high school. Starting in Ann Marie’s sophomore year, Al began writing daily notes...

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Overview

Sometimes Father does know best . . .

Looking for a little advice on dealing with a difficult situation in your life or just want some help figuring out what to do with your talents and dreams? You’ll find plenty of gentle, loving wisdom in Lunch Bag Notes.
Ann Marie Parisi and her dad, Al Parisi, share the fatherly advice and support that helped Ann Marie survive high school. Starting in Ann Marie’s sophomore year, Al began writing daily notes on her lunch bags. At first she kept the notes private (she was a little embarrassed), but eventually they became popular reading for Ann Marie’s growing circle of lunchtime friends. The daily notes guided all of “Al’s Gals” through high school’s tough times and reminded the girls to celebrate their friendships and their talents, and to truly make something of their lives.
In Lunch Bag Notes, Ann Marie and Al have collected the most inspirational messages that Al originally wrote and combined them with questions for reflection and a place to journal. Lunch Bag Notes touches upon everything from friendship, family, attitude, and choices to faith, character, forgiveness, and more. If you’re seeking guidance on a situation you’re facing or simply need a little inspiration or encouragement, you’ll find it here.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780829420609
  • Publisher: Loyola Press
  • Publication date: 8/1/2004
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 913,581
  • Age range: 12 - 16 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Ann Marie Parisi, teaches religious education, is a senior in college, and aspires to someday teach at a Catholic elementary school. Her father, Al Parisi, and her mother live in Agoura Hills, California.

 

Al Parisi and his wife live in Agoura Hills, California, and are the parents of two children. Ann Marie Parisi, his daughter, teaches religious education, is a senior in college, and aspires to someday teach at a Catholic elementary school.

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Read an Excerpt

Introduction

The Parisi ­­family is a normal, well-adjusted, first-­generation Italian American family. My mom, Mary, and my dad, Al, both grew up in Brooklyn, New York, in an Italian-American community called Bensonhurst. My dad was instructed in his faith by his mom (my grandmother) and an elderly babysitter. From an early age he felt a calling to the priesthood, and he was encouraged to pursue this calling by the parish priests whom he served. He was the weekend sacristan, a weekday guy Friday, the school janitor, a basketball coach, the Junior Holy Name Society president, and a member of the teen club. He was an A student, was the class comedian, read voraciously, and was a great raconteur. As early as the sixth grade, Dad developed a penchant for writing short stories for his classmates.

 

Through their middle-school years, Dad, along with his lifelong best friend, Alan, and Alan’s dad, would walk over a mile, at least twice monthly, to the nearest public library. They returned the four books they had borrowed on their previous visit and, as usual, argued with the librarian about the four-book limit. Dad enjoyed reading everything from sports biographies to Hardy Boys mysteries. As he got older, he added the classics and motivational books to his reading list. Today, he has an interesting library in his office. One bookcase contains various Bibles, books on Catholicism and motivational books by Steven R. Covey, Les Brown, NBA Coach Pat Riley, former Notre Dame football coach Lou Holtz, and ­­others. Another bookcase is dedicated to “his” New York Yankees, especially Mickey Mantle, his childhood sports idol. Instead of sitting in traffic and complaining during his commute to work, my dad would ­­listen to books on tape, most of which were religious or motivational.

Dad credits much of his success to having been well-read, but he never fails to mention the excellent mentors he had in his life and his inner drive to make his parents proud of him. He says there was one specific incident in his teen life that was so poignant it still seems like it happened to him only yesterday. One evening on a hot and sticky summer night in Brooklyn, New York, many of the neighbors and their kids were sitting on the steps or on chaise lounges in front of Dad’s house. As Jack’s Ice Cream and Candy Truck made its usual stop in front of the house, all the kids ran to their parents for money to buy an ice cream or cold drink. Dad ran to his pop and asked him for ten cents for a Sunny Boy. My grandfather was engaged in conversation with a neighbor and seemingly ignored my dad. Dad kept tugging at Grandfather’s shirt, repeatedly asking for a dime. My dad was ready to give up, but then a minor miracle happened: the neighbor to whom my grandfather was talking reached into his pocket and handed Dad a dime. Dad dashed to the truck and got his drink.

Later that evening when everyone returned to their homes, Dad had a big surprise coming. His dad punished him severely because my dad had embarrassed my grandfather in public. My grandfather did not have any money to give my dad; that’s why he was ignoring Dad, though Dad of course hadn’t figured it out. “What a lesson I learned that night. It never occurred to me that we were poor. I promised myself someday I would buy my parents a home.” It was a promise that he would later keep.

Occasionally, girls in my dad’s classes would ask him to write love letters for them. He was the Cyrano de Bergerac of his day. The letters must have been good because about three years ago I had the pleasure of overhearing a conversation between Dad and a couple for whom he had performed his literary magic. I knew of the couple and Dad’s role in bringing them together from his recitation of their story. The funny thing was that until that conversation, the husband never knew what my dad had done. When the cat was let out of the bag, the three of them laughed so loud I’m sure you could have heard it across the continent. I share this to show that even as a teen my dad was industrious,

confident, and highly motivated. I am told he was a leader by ex­ample, and that peers and even older folks turned to him for advice and counsel. Nothing has changed since then; today, he’s all that he was then, and more.

My parents went to rival high schools (New Utrecht and Lafayette), but late in the summer of 1973 they met, and it was love at first sight. It wasn’t until March of 1974, however, that they went on their first date.

Both sets of my grandparents were old-fashioned, but my maternal grandparents were especially so. They were delighted to meet Mary’s “friend,” particularly, or perhaps only, because he spoke fluent Italian, was from the neighborhood, and had a big car. This last point was particularly important because my grandparents ­­didn’t own a car, nor did they even have drivers’ licenses. My dad quickly became part of the ­family. He became the ­family chauffeur and “gofer,” and then my Uncle Joey’s tutor (Joey was twelve years old at that time).

My grandparents came to rely on him for many other things, like help in installing windows, walls, and ceilings, and in wine-making. After about seven months, my dad felt it was time to “pop the question”—no, not a marriage proposal, but an asking-my-mom-for-a-first-date proposal to the annual parish sports dinner dance. The dance was scheduled for Saturday, March 22, 1974, and would be attended by the priests and nuns of the parish. My dad was also part of the post-dance cleanup committee, since the auditorium served not only as a basketball arena Monday through Friday but was also used to ­handle the overflow crowds during Sunday Mass.

When Dad asked Mom to the dance, she said there was no way her parents would let her go out on a date. A bit overconfident, my dad said, “They’ll never say no to me.” He couldn’t have been more wrong: request denied. My dad was terribly hurt, but he hung in there. He engaged his parents, the parish priests, the Blessed Mother, and his favorite saints. Against all odds, my grandfather finally relented, and a romance was begun. After that first date, my dad and mom dated several times a week for four years. Their dates usually consisted of sitting around the table in my grandparents’ kitchen and watching TV. On rare occasions, my mom and dad were allowed to leave the premises and visit relatives. This story of my parents’ dating is an ex­ample of the character and determination my dad had early in life.

Out of the need to support his ­family and to prepare for his upcoming marriage, my dad attended Brooklyn College at night while working full-time in the banking industry during the day. He graduated cum laude in four and a half years, and somehow also had the time to reestablish a chapter of his beloved fraternity, Alpha Phi Delta, on campus. He married Mom on July 29, 1978. He was twenty-three on their wedding day; Mom turned twenty-one during their honeymoon in Italy. Despite Dad’s young age, he was appointed branch manager of the local savings and loan.

I was born in Brooklyn, New York, on December 11, 1982. Doctors said I was a miracle birth. Not only was I a breach baby, but my umbilical cord also was tied tightly around my neck and shoulders. An emergency C-section apparently saved my life. My parents wasted no time in getting me baptized. They thanked the Blessed Virgin Mary with a nice gift to the church, and named me after her and her mother, St. Ann. I was the first grandchild to both sets of grandparents, and I’m told that they naturally doted on me. It was with heavy hearts that, three months later, my parents had to inform my grandparents that Dad had accepted a promotion, and my parents and I were moving to Columbus, Ohio.
A year later, Dad was given the responsibility of starting a new division of his company and was transferred back to New York City. My grandparents were thrilled. Then eleven months later, Dad received the proverbial “offer you can’t refuse,” and Mom, Dad and I moved out to Southern California. Mom continued to stay at home, and we did everything together. It was a real bonding experience. Since we had no ­family in California, I went everywhere with my parents, including fancy restaurants and hotels. I guess I was well-behaved enough that Mom and Dad were able to take me along without any anxiety; ­­people we met often doted on me just like my grandparents had. I can remember both Mom and Dad teaching me manners and prayers. They slowly introduced me to the Catholic faith.

Mom encouraged my involvement in several activities at a young age, including music, dancing, and, of course, acting—after all, we were living near Hollywood. I attended Agoura Hills (a Los Angeles suburb) schools and continued studying voice, piano, and dancing, and even acted in a local play with Angela, one my closest friends. My dad tried pushing me to play a sport, so I gave softball a try . . . to this day I see myself running the bases backwards. It was a short and failed endeavor.

At the top of Dad’s list of priorities was the religious education of my brother Anthony and me. Dad took the responsibility seriously. He ­­didn’t leave the job for some teacher to do in the future. He taught us by reading to us about the church and the saints. He gave us rosary beads and religious cards. Mostly, however, he taught us by his own pious ex­ample. As a result, I learned my faith. [Today, like Dad, I teach religious education. At the time I am writing this, I am a junior in college and I aspire to teach some day at a Catholic school, hopefully at my home parish.]

Success continued to follow my dad throughout his career; he eventually became the chairman of the board and CEO of Acqua Group, Inc., a national drinking-water company that he founded and took public in 1990.

My dad’s faith and his understanding of stewardship remained vitally important to him throughout these good times. He was always humble and often embarrassed by his success. He even kept his well-deserved Mercedes in the garage so his friends ­­wouldn’t assume he had changed. He attended weekday Mass as often as he could and almost never missed first Friday or first Saturday. He became a Eucharistic Minister, lector, religious education teacher, and confirmation leader. He volunteered or was sought out to join church, sports, and civic organizations. When a group of boys needed a coach, the league approached my dad, even though my brother was still too young to play himself. Not only did Dad coach the team, he also volunteered to be a league director. He has been Anthony’s hero, always there for him, whether it is for school or church-related activities, sports, or just hanging with him.

In 1994, my father’s true mettle was tested, as he puts it. After suffering indescribable headaches for months, doctors diagnosed him with a malignant brain tumor. Thanks to the prayers of many friends—some of whom my father claims ­hadn’t prayed in years—neighbors, relatives, and parishioners, and the hands of a skillful world-famous surgeon, Dad survived the very scary operation to remove the tumor. Though the operation was successful, after this ordeal, the doctors decided that Dad should receive six weeks of daily, one-hour doses of radiation to make certain every last malignant cell was eradicated from his body. Mom and Dad quickly arranged for Anthony and me to go on a “vacation” to Brooklyn, New York, to shield us from the trauma that was about to unfold.

Being separated from your parents at such a youthful age is difficult enough, but when it’s due to your parent’s serious illness, it is unbelievably hard. Knowing our dad was suffering while Anthony and I were being entertained tore us apart. Is Dad going to be okay? Is he going to die? These were the types of questions that we asked ourselves every day. He was always on our minds, and we prayed for him daily. I felt so guilty not being home for him. I ­couldn’t wait to see him again and give him a tight, tight hug. That will make him feel better, I thought.

Mom described Dad’s days during his radiation treatment as awful. He was unable to eat or sleep, was blurry-eyed and unable to read or watch TV, and was constantly sick to his stomach. Mom said there were days she literally had to drag him off the sofa and into the car. As she drove him to UCLA for his treatments, she had to stuff crackers in his mouth to keep him from vomiting.

Finally, Dad’s radiation treatment ended, and Anthony and I returned home. Incidentally, that “vacation” was the first time Anthony and I were ever separated from both our parents. I grew up a lot on that trip.

Doctors instructed my dad to take ten to eleven months off from work so his body and brain could heal. Unfortunately, Dad’s pride—his Sicilian pride, as he likes to say—made him believe he could go back to work after just six weeks. By going back to work so early he exacerbated the collateral damage caused by the postoperative radiation. About a year later, Dad found himself totally incapable of working as an executive. He suffered, and continues to suffer, from chronic and acute back, shoulder, and neck pain; loss of short-term memory, 100 percent loss of hearing in his right ear; loss of balance; and frequent disorientation, just to mention a few of his ailments. Despite all this, he continues to do all he can for ­others, especially his ­family and his God.

It wasn’t easy for Dad to accept his cross at first. He suffered survivor guilt and wondered why God let him survive and not another gentleman in our community, Mom’s obstetrician, who was the same age as Dad and also had a brain tumor. As the familiar and routine life he had led before his cancer collapsed, Dad soon became very depressed. He was no longer a successful businessman and entrepreneur, but was now “Mr. Mom.” He stood by helplessly as a restaurant and other business endeavors began to fail. Through it all, Dad never let his faith falter. He credits the newfound opportunity to receive the Holy Eucharist each day as the reason for his will to persevere. He came to view his cross as an opportunity to relieve the suffering of some of the souls in purgatory by offering up his pain for them every day.

Dad eventually accepted the role of stay-at-home dad and redefined this position as CEO of Parisi Enterprises. He regained most of his good humor and positive outlook on life, and returned to writing memos. These memos, however, were far more important than the ones to his subordinates that his secretary would type on his embossed stationery. He wrote his new memos to me and my friends on brown lunch bags. They are the basis for this book.

My friends who read Dad’s memos with me are the inspiration behind this book. We all grew up together. We spent our time attending football games, watching our siblings play sports, girl scouting, attending school dances, and going to whatever other local activities we could talk our parents into. We celebrated one an­other’s birthdays with pajama parties and discussed the usual things: fashion, boys, movies, TV shows, school happenings, and so on. Our names are Angela, B. T., Becky, Brynn, Erin, Jenny, Julia, Malia, Marissa, and, of course, Ann Marie (me).

None of us had a sister, which is one reason why we were all so close. We were very much like siblings. We affectionately called ourselves “Al’s Gals” because we grew up under my dad’s watch. He was our chauffeur, religious education teacher, confirmation leader, and mentor. We could talk to him about anything, and he relished every moment with us.

From kindergarten through high school, Al’s Gals spent most weekends at my house. Both my mom and dad were pleased we did so. My mom made us home-baked goodies, hot chocolate, and hot apple cider, but our favorite treat was Martinelli’s Gold Medal Sparkling Cider with pizza or my mom’s focaccia.

My mom, who was also our school campus supervisor, would occasionally join us and make us laugh hysterically with school anecdotes or tales of her courtship with Dad. We were, however, excellent at entertaining ourselves. We chatted for hours, watched videos, swam, or performed skits, which we would tape and later watch, as we roared with laughter. Malia served as camerawomen (she is now studying photography at California State University, Northridge, and aspires to work in Hollywood someday). Becky, one of the loquacious ones (I was the other), served as our announcer/commentator. Mom and Dad often sat in to watch either our live or taped perfor­mances; sometimes they even watched both. It was so cool to see them thoroughly enjoying themselves.

Our parents would frequently get together with or without us girls. We became “­family” to one another, as our biological families were scattered throughout the East and Midwest. Because we were very much like sisters, at times there were also heated discussions and sibling rivalries among us. However, we always managed to resolve our differences rather quickly.

Whether in our religious education classes or at our weekend get-togethers, my dad was adept at sharing thinly veiled morality stories with us. What a wonderful storyteller he was and continues to be. We never knew if his stories were truth or fiction, but it ­didn’t matter—they motivated and inspired us. He could read all of us like proverbial books, and always had words of encouragement for each of us individually. He was very aware of our “important” teenage issues and somehow never overstayed his welcome.

One particular morning during the fall semester of our sophomore year at Agoura High School, Dad was inspired to write a few words of encouragement on my brown lunch bag. I discovered it when I sat down to eat. After reading it, it was obvious to me that Dad had overheard Al’s Gals engaged in an unusually loud and sometimes mean-spirited debate. He may not have understood the issue exactly, but he was concerned because I went to bed upset that night.

The next day, there was another note written on my brown bag. Just like the day before, I ­didn’t discover it until lunchtime when I took my lunch out of my backpack. And just like the day before, I read it very quickly, crunched it up, and tossed it into the trash. Soon afterwards, I realized Dad’s notes were becoming an everyday occurrence. I began to look forward to reading them—I was careful, however, not to let the rest of Al’s Gals at the table see the notes, which I thought were too private. The notes were mostly timely thoughts on everyday issues and personal advice for me.

After a while, the hot debate was forgotten, and the Al’s Gals lunch table was back to normal. The content of Dad’s notes lightened up a bit as he sensed the normalcy among us.

Reading Dad’s notes soon became ritualistic and more important to me than the lunch contained in the brown bag. I was no longer discreet. The first thing I would do was empty the contents and then carefully “iron” the bag with my hands. The other Al’s Gals began to notice my ­­ritual; they would come over and try to read the notes over my shoulder. I finally came clean and told them what Dad had been doing. They showed genu­ine interest and excitement, and soon it became a custom for us to pass the hand-ironed lunch bag around the table, so each Al’s Gal could read it. Later, friends from our extended group, which included boys, were coming by to read the notes. They knew my dad pretty well, so they were curious.

When I eventually told Dad about his extended audience, he was very moved. He said he enjoyed writing them and, if I liked, he would continue to do so. In fact, motivated by his new readership, Dad began to write in a fashion that had a broader appeal. Dad’s notes, though they evolved, were still written all on one side of the brown bag, and they remained ­­simple and profound. Little did I, or any of Al’s Gals, realize then that Dad’s notes were truly maxims for leading a happy and fulfilling life.

These beautiful, heartwarming messages of love that my friends and I were blessed to read were meant to inspire us to believe in ourselves and to make sound choices in our lives. They were clear and concise, and never preachy. The lunch bags Dad wrote on were purchased at the local Costco Warehouse. They were inexpensive, plain brown-paper bags; the messages written on them, however, were timeless and priceless.

I saved these brown-bag notes, unbeknownst to my dad, to share them with my children some day. I stuffed the bags in a sneaker box and put the box on a shelf in my bedroom closet. About two years ago, as I was cleaning and packing up that closet, the sneaker box fell on my head, and the notes scattered everywhere. When I told my dad what happened and that I’d saved nearly all his notes, he was so touched.

About that time, we had been invited to dinner at a friend’s house. The host couple, Elizabeth and Stefan Gaudio, were my dad’s childhood friends. Dad ­couldn’t wait to tell them about the notes he wrote, how I had saved them, and, of course, how the box bonked me on my head, and the notes went flying everywhere. We all laughed. Then, after a pause, Elizabeth suggested we do something with the notes. Like what? we wondered. She explained that the notes could be made into a book. We discussed it a ­­little further, and then somehow over dinner the discussion was dropped. It seemed, though, that everyone with whom Dad shared the story had a similar suggestion.

Eventually, I resumed the discussion with Dad and ultimately decided, with Dad’s blessing, to share these notes with other teens and their dads, who often have difficulty expressing their emotions with each other. Knowing nothing about the publishing business, Dad volunteered to get on the Internet and try to learn what he could. Dad has difficulty learning new concepts as a result of the collateral damage he sustained ­during his radiation treatment. Thankfully, he was at least able to determine that the best and fastest way to have the book published was to self-publish it. I did so through Trafford Publishing, located in Canada. We chose Trafford because they were very professional and very understanding of Dad’s limitations. Mary Lucas, our representative, made certain to follow up on every detail and guided us step by step.

The original version of the book was released in the spring of 2003. We promptly began to use the book as a fund-raiser for our parish, St. Jude Roman Catholic Church in Westlake Village, and for a few departments at my alma mater, Agoura High. I started a Lunch Bag Notes Scholarship Fund at Agoura, as well. The scholarship goes to the person who most exemplifies the ideals of Lunch Bag Notes. I had the pleasure of awarding the inaugural scholarship this past June to Brooke Hawkins, a well-deserving recipient, who uses her time and talent for the betterment of ­others.

Word spread throughout the neighboring communities, and articles appeared in all the local papers, as well as our diocesan newspaper. Readers’ comments were remarkable and humbling. They came in the form of cards, notes, teary-eyed telephone calls, e-mails, and in person from teenagers, parents, grandparents, educators, and priests. Dad and I knew the notes were touching peoples’ lives. At that point, Dad also realized that what he thought were his notes were actually inspired by God. In late May 2003—barely six weeks after we had received our first courtesy copies of the book—Dad was confident that the mini–test-marketing we had done was successful. There was interest out there for an inspirational and ­simple book on how to live a good, moral life. “Perhaps we should have a parallel plan to solicit a Catholic publisher for you to get the book out to as many ­people as possible,” Dad said.

We sent a cover letter, readers’ comments, newspaper clippings, and the book to several publishers, and received the standard thanks-but-no-thanks letter from a few of them. Three publishers expressed an interest in acquiring the book. Dad spent many hours e-mailing and updating each of them, but was often frustrated by the absence of return calls or e-mails. It was literally a painful process for Dad, as he suffers chronic and acute back pain, which is exacerbated when he sits too long at the computer, but he was on a proverbial “mission from God.”

The first to respond affirmatively that they wanted to purchase the publishing rights to Lunch Bag Notes was Loyola Press. This new Loyola Press edition incorporates some wonderful changes suggested by the editorial staff: an expanded introduction, questions for reflection, and space for journaling.

Here is another ex­ample of how providential this whole experience has been (remember the box bonking me on the head). Sometime in April 2003, Dad was asked to attend the International Catholic Stewardship Conference in Chicago, Illinois, as a representative of our parish. That was well before we even thought about traditional publishers. Remarkably, Loyola Press is headquartered in Chicago. The conference took place October 5–8, 2003. At the end of the conference, Loyola sent a car to pick up Dad. Upon arrival, there was a sign welcoming him. He met with the entire staff, who, like Trafford’s Mary Lucas, treated my dad with dignity and grace.

The notes, unedited except for two minor attributions, ­follow. I sincerely hope this tiny treasure of Dad’s wisdom serves to motivate and inspire you to believe in yourself and boldly ­follow your dreams.

—Ann Marie Parisi

 

How to Use This Book

Since most of you will find that you have either experienced similar situations to the ones described in the notes or likely will encounter them, each note is accompanied by a journal page with a brief comment to stimulate your thought processes. We recommend you record your feelings and your emotions, or anything else that comes to mind after reading the accompanying note. Usually, your first thoughts will be the strongest and the most meaningful. By taking the time to write out your thoughts, you will be more likely to understand how to apply the note to your own life experience. For instance, you may be conflicted about a decision, choice, or action you need to take. By journaling, you can better assess the situation. Ben Franklin, whenever he was faced with a crucial decision, would write out each possible choice on a separate piece of paper, and then draw a line down the ­middle of the page. On one side he would write the potential posi­tive outcomes of his decision, and on the other side he would write the potential negative outcomes. After doing so, he would opt for the choice that had the most potential for a posi­tive result. Like most good decision makers, he took his time deciding, but once he did, he was firm in his commitment.
The right-hand pages are lined for your convenience when journaling. At the bottom of each journal page, you will also find the theme(s) of the accompanying note, for easy reference.

 

 

 

Lunch Bag Notes

 

 

 

Dearest Ann Marie,
I understand Al’s Gals are going through a difficult time.
Remember you are very blessed with beauty, grace, talent, maturity, and a wonderful home life.
Once in a while, even friends make unkind remarks to each other. You shouldn’t, however, let these remarks get you too far down in the dumps. Most often, these words are spoken out of frustration, jealousy, and anger. They are not a true reflection of you. You see it is far easier to bring others (you) down than it is to rise up to their (your) level.
Love, Dad

Do you ever put down your friends or make mean comments about others? How do you think this makes them feel? When others offend and hurt you, do you react hastily, and inflame the situation? Anger is natural in these situations, but the mature person pauses, says a quick silent pray, and responds charitably. Friendships are worth saving, wouldn’t you agree?

 

{ Friendship, Attitude }

 

 

Dearest Ann Marie,
Each of us has time, talent, and treasure to share with our fellow man.
I urge you to exploit your talents lest they shrivel away, to offer your time to charitable and civic causes, and some day to share your treasure with those less fortunate than you.
Love, Dad

Remember: All we own is on loan from God. We are only stewards of his gifts. He expects us to take good care of his gifts and to share them with members of our community. Do you feel good about the way you’re currently sharing God’s gifts? If not, how can you share your gifts with others?

{ Stewardship }

 

 

Dearest Ann Marie,
One of the nicest things we can do for someone is to simply listen to him or her and show genuine concern. So many people listen with their own “agenda,” as if to say, “I have something more important to say than whatever you’re saying.”
Listening should be raised to an art form. It is a challenging but necessary component of “dialogue.” The first two letters of the word—di—mean two. How can we dialogue if we don’t care to listen to others?
Love, Dad

Aren’t you annoyed when you are ignored or when no one shows an interest in what you are saying? Think about that the next time you have the urge to interrupt someone else. How can you be a better listener?

{ Friendship, Happiness }

 

 

Dearest Ann Marie,
You may be shocked to hear this, but I urge you to never grow up. Be like Peter Pan.
What I mean, of course, is to appreciate life like a child getting his or her first bicycle or a child visiting Disneyland.
The unconditional love and innocence we had as children is the antidote to many of society’s ills—prejudice, hatred, selfishness, etc.
As you have heard me say many times, your attitude is all-important. Attitude pretty much determines how much you can grow as an individual. Use this acronym to constantly remind yourself to maintain a positive attitude—Superior Mental Attitude Results in Triumph!
Be SMART!
Love, Dad

Are you rushing to grow up and passing on the joys of youth? If so, you’re squandering a wonderful gift God has given you. You’ll have plenty of years of adulthood, so slow down and smell the roses. What can you do today to recapture the joy of childhood?

 

{ Attitude }

 

 

Dearest Ann Marie,
There is a saying from Confucius that is very apropos: “I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.”
In other words, it is in the “doing” that we appreciate and learn the meaning of an action or activity, not in thinking or daydreaming about it.
I urge you to use and share your talents and perhaps you will discover why God blessed you with them.
Love, Dad

Do you daydream often about the things you would like to do? If you can “dream,” you can “do.” One method used by very successful people is to write down your goals with a timetable and a plan for achieving them. What are your goals? What is your plan to achieve them? Post your goals prominently and read them daily.

{ Attitude, Stewardship }

 

 

Dearest Ann Marie,
A follow-up to yesterday’s Chinese saying: A Roman proverb says, “Fortune favors the bold.”
In other words, success is more likely to be achieved by those who recognize and boldly accept life’s opportunities.
Roman generals used to “burn the bridges” behind them so their soldiers couldn’t retreat. They would have to forge ahead, regardless of the obstacles. The analogy, Ann Marie, is to not let peer pressure or other hindrances stop you.
Love, Dad

Are your friends or anyone else holding you back from fulfilling your dreams? Perhaps in the future you should share your plans only with those who are supportive. Go back and read the advice given after the first lunch note. Who is supportive of your dreams? Who isn’t?

 

{ Attitude, Friendship }

 

 

Dearest Ann Marie,
The decisions we make every day have a profound impact on where we are in life, both spiritually and physically.
Often, these decisions are the “safe choices” because, as Aristotle, the Greek philosopher, said, “Man perpetuates the familiar.” Rarely do people choose to venture beyond their comfort zone and challenge themselves. To paraphrase Henry David Thoreau, they live lives of quiet desperation.
I encourage you and all of Al’s Gals to “boldly go where no man/woman has gone before.”
Love, Dad

Do you find yourself in a rut? If so, determine why, and self-correct. Usually, all it takes is to do something. The hardest part is the first step. Decide to be proactive. God wants us to be joyful. What has given you joy in your life? What can you do that is joyful? Get up and do it again, or stretch yourself and try something new.

{ Choices, Attitude }

 

 

Dearest Ann Marie,
St. Francis of Assisi, wary of conventional wisdom and aristocratic duties, renounced his wealth, inheritance, and power. He adopted a much simpler life by living in the forest in abject poverty, yet he was joyful. He danced, told humorous stories, and laughed. He learned to appreciate the beauty of nature and acquired inner peace.
The lesson to us is a reminder to slow the pace and learn to “smell the roses,” to take a break from the hustle and bustle of life and appreciate the gift of life.
Love, Dad

Give yourself a break; it is possible that no one else will. You need to recharge your batteries, too. Fatigue is often the cause of hasty decisions and accidents. What is causing undue stress in your life? Do you find yourself exhausted from too many activities? Has being too busy or too tired caused you to make any bad decisions? What can you do to relieve some of this stress?
Take the time to have a “coffee break” with God daily. St. Francis’s example of serenity is proof that happiness isn’t dependent on things.

 

{ Attitude, Stress }

 

 

Dearest Ann Marie,
Make today a great day by living it to the max!
Carpe diem!
Love, Dad

The Marine motto “carpe diem” is Latin for “seize the day.” Do you know every day is full of opportunity to improve yourself physically, mentally, and spiritually? What can you do to seize the day?
Exercise your body, mind, and spirit. How will you start today? Write down your commitment; that’s why the lines are there.

 

{ Attitude }

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 25, 2004

    A book of Wisdom for Teens and Parents

    LBN has an innocence and subtlety, yet its message is profound. It has the capability to change lives and foster better parent/teen relationships. Parisi's inspirational and motivational notes may also be the last bit of amunition teens will have before they move on and have to discern which of the myriad of voices clammoring for their attention they should listen to.

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