Lunch Note Sketch

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A message about love

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A lot has happened in the past 24 hours, and it got me thinking…

I once posted a note that simply said “Lead with dignity.” It is, in my opinion, a statement that is a no-brainer. I mean, who wouldn’t want to lead with dignity? This note, however, prompted someone to comment with...

Leap: 366 Consecutive Days of Sketches

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Every so often there comes a time when you realize you accomplished something great. Today is one of those days for me—for Lunch Note Sketch. One year ago I set a goal to create at least one sketch a day for an entire leap year. And for 366 consecutive days, I was able to do just that. With the help of my family and friends I was able to dedicate time each and every day to create sketches that my wife and I could add to our kids’ lunches. There has been lots of positive feedback in regards to the sketches and I'm proud to say that the original goal has been accomplished.

 

Oh, The Opportunities

It has been an amazing year. Not just because the sketch-a-day goal has been reached, but because of the opportunities that have been created. The first big opportunity occurred when I was able to attend the Dad 2.0 Summit in Washington, D.C. Back in February, I spent three days surrounded by the most loving, creative group of (mostly) fathers. This summit was about finding inspiration so these gentlemen could continue being great dads, and also continue building their online dad brands/businesses. I went for the sole purpose of learning from people who took their online presence to the next level. I walked away with lots of inspiration and amazing memories. I learned new ways of thinking, but most importantly made some lifelong friendships.

Showing off her artwork.

Showing off her artwork.

Another great opportunity occurred more recently when I was able to volunteer at the local elementary school’s art show. It was the first show of its kind in the area and I was honored to be able to speak to children about Lunch Note Sketch. I spoke about the benefits of practicing your art form despite wanting to sometimes give up. I was also able to hold a couple of how-to sessions so the children could create their own lunch notes to share with their families and friends. The best part of the day was the “thank yous” I received from the children. I also had one 5th grader create 6 notes that she wanted to take home and give to her parents and siblings. It was a truly memorable experience.

Finally, in the past few months, I have also had the honor of working with people who volunteered their time to support Lunch Note Sketch. All four of these contributors came to me and asked to submit either artwork or a blog post. I felt very blessed to have Dominic share his beautiful sketches for 8 weeks, and to have Keary, Michelle, and Sadai write inspiring stories to share on the blog for Autism Awareness Month. Each one of these contributors brought with them amazing talent and their own spin on what it means to be creative. I hope to work with each one of them again in the future.

 

Appreciated Around The World

"Play golf" posted on Masters Sunday was one of the most popular sketches.

"Play golf" posted on Masters Sunday was one of the most popular sketches.

For the last 366 days, I have seen the Lunch Note Sketch audience steadily grow. The LNS sketches have been seen and liked by people in over a dozen countries, and the community sits right around 530 people in the various social media channels. This may be a small audience to some, but I can’t stress enough how grand it really is because it is an audience that was built by you. Not a lot of money has been spent on advertising (roughly $30 for the year), so 99% of the community was built organically. I appreciate every single one of the people who take the time to like, share, or comment on the sketches.

As stated in the mid-year post back in November, the demographic breakdown is still about the same. The Facebook community is completely U.S. based, while the Instagram audience is mostly international. Facebook reaches mostly women, specifically moms and grandmothers, while Instagram reaches mostly parents and is about a 50/50 split when it comes to gender. Another difference between the two audiences is that Instagram is heavily weighted toward the art community.

 

Thank You

What is an accomplishment without recognizing the people who made it all possible? First and foremost, I have to thank my wife who has put up with my late nights and continuous sketching. She has been a constant source of inspiration. I also want to thank each one of my three children. The highest priority for Lunch Note Sketch was to always create sketches for my kids. They have inspired me in so many ways and I hope they know that these sketches come from a place of love. I recently shared a quick conversation I had with my 5-year old about getting to day 366, and I want to share it again here:

5-year old: "A whole year?"
Me: "A leap year. It has almost been 366 days in a row."
5-year old: "That's a lot."
Me: "It sure is."
5-year old: *Big smile* "I like them."
Me: "Oh yeah? Why do you like them?"
5-year old: "Because YOU made them for me."

If there was any question whether adding a little note to someone's lunch is worth it or not, well, I have my answer. Every single sketch, every single day, was TOTALLY worth the effort. As a 5-year old, I imagine this will be one of her earliest memories. Since Lunch Note Sketch was really started in order to keep her interested in the arts during a very difficult time in her life, it gives me goosebumps thinking that she has worked through all the pain and turmoil and still takes the time to appreciate the effort.

I also want to thank my extended family because they have really helped propel Lunch Note Sketch by sharing and commenting on Facebook. Lastly, I want to say thank you to every single person who has supported Lunch Note Sketch either by contributing, asking questions, saying nice things, or interacting in person or on social media. Without you, the sketches—and their messages—wouldn’t be reaching people who need a creative pick-me-up.

 

Where Do We Go From Here

I have had a lot of people ask me what happens when I reach day 366. After a lot of thought, I have decided to continue sketching. I keep going back to my highest priority, and that is to create something for my children so they get to see a little creativity in their lives. You will most likely continue seeing a sketch every weekday, but weekends might be focused on other areas of opportunity for Lunch Note Sketch. I’d like to spend a little more time writing about creativity and parenthood. So please check the blog every so often for more posts.

Presenting at the art show gave me a chance to see how people (kids) react to lunch note tutorials. With that said, I want to introduce the first Lunch Note Sketch video tutorial. Please take a look and send me your feedback and suggestions for what kinds of lunch notes you’d like to see done. I am hoping that both kids and parents will learn how to create their own notes to share so the creativity can be passed on.

Thanks so much for your support. Now, let’s get creative!

A Letter To My Children

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It has been a few days now since we lost our beloved Bailey. She was such a sweet and loving 8 year old puppy. As hard as it was to say goodbye, we did the right thing to stop her from suffering any longer. I know your memories of her will be few—if you remember her at all—so, I wanted to say a few things about Bailey and how much she meant to our family—to me.

This girl loved the snow.

They say dog is man’s best friend. I never doubted that saying, but I now know it’s especially true because I am faced with an enormous heartache. In the past 72 hours I have been flooded with emotions and memories. I have, at times, stopped dead in my tracks because a random memory popped in my head and I didn’t want to simply brush it aside. Like when we were outside throwing snowballs, I stopped for a minute because I knew Bailey loved to catch them and eat them. There are so many other memories, too. Memories of times before you were even born. As a puppy she really loved to keep us on our toes. From the time I got home to find our doorframe had been chewed off to the crazy few times we tried to give her a bath on our own. I will miss having her follow us around when a storm comes through. She hated storms and would stay so close that we would sometimes trip over her.

Bailey was at home in the water.

I’ll never forget how much Bailey loved the water. The beginning of her life was filled with swimming at the lake and chasing ducks. Your mother and I just laughed as we reminisced about the time we threw a ball out into the lake and she veered off course because she thought she could sneak up on a duck. Once the duck flew off she was content to circle back around to get the ball and bring it back to shore. She lived in the moment. She was always happy, but she was happiest at the lake. Her favorite words were “Hey Bailey, wanna go to the lake?” We will be spreading her ashes at her favorite spot once the weather gets warm as one last tribute.

She was also a fierce protector of our family. I loved that she was hesitant around any new men that came around. Whether it was the delivery man, door-to-door salesmen, or even our landlord. She would bark and growl like the great guardian that she was. I thought that was going to serve our family well as you got older. At the same time, she was so affectionate. She would shower me with kisses whenever I’d let her. She was always trying to give you kisses, too. And she always wanted to sit in people’s laps. At 70+ pounds, she made things interesting.

Luke and his dog.

One of the things we’ll miss the most is her ability to clean our dining room. It hit us in the past week, when Bailey didn’t want to eat, that we were blessed to have a living vacuum. Ever since you were eating food she was always there to quickly clean up any messes. For the first time in over 8 years, I had to vacuum the rug under the dining room table. And Luke, we would often just sit you on the floor after a meal and she would come clean you, too. I think that’s why you—Luke—loved Bailey so much.

The thing I will miss the most, though, was my bedtime routine. Before going to bed every night I would finish cleaning up and go around checking that the doors were locked and lights were off. Before heading to our room I would find Bailey sleeping on the couch. I would then get on all fours in front of her on the living room floor and put my head down as if to hide. She would happily jump off the couch and try to nudge me. She wanted in. She wanted to get her big head under me to be close. Without fail she would knock me over and we would either lay there for a minute or she would then get a ball to play. No matter what, I ended my night by petting this sweet dog. Now that you were in bed and your mother was asleep Bailey knew it was our time. She loved the attention. These late night memories are what I keep shedding a tear over. I laid on the living room floor the past few nights and for the first time there was no one there to nudge me. No furry animal to knock me over. No sweet loving Bailey for me to pet.

Bailey's food bowl acts as our new centerpiece on the dining room table.

So, they say dog is a man’s best friend. Yep. No doubt. It was extremely difficult watching her condition deteriorate in just 7 days. To go from a once happy, healthy, funny dog to a dog who was in pain and couldn’t even eat. There was nothing like laying on the vet floor, nose to nose with Bailey, petting her head and holding her paw as she breathed her last breath. Talk about a surreal moment. I lost my best friend and I’m a mess. Her dog bed will probably sit at the foot of our bed—it’s rightful spot—for a long time. I cleaned her food dish and put it at the center of our dining room table as a reminder that she was a part of our family for just 8 short years. It’s going to take a long time to get over this. Some might say “geez, it’s just a dog.” That’s true, she was a dog. But she was our dog. A beautiful soul. She was my best friend who loved me—loved us—no matter what. And everyday for 8 years of my life she was there for me. I just hope I was there for her.

I wanted to write this letter in the hope that you would remember something about Bailey. But if you don’t, that’s okay, too. The one thing I want you to take away from this, though, is that we suffered a great loss to our family. Admittedly, I probably took it the hardest. All of the sadness I felt, and all of the sadness I will feel, is nothing compared to all of the love, loyalty, and fun times Bailey gave us over 8 years. I hope you have the opportunity to welcome your own dog—or cat, or horse, or whatever animal you want—to your family one day so you can experience the same fulfillment I got. Life is certainly better if you have an animal companion to share it with.

Rest in peace, sweet Bailey.

Love,
Dad