Monday, October 11, 2010

GET REAL-TOR! "GREG ELLIOTT" The Love Shack Series Blog 2

One of the first three people to cross the threshold of the side door entrance to my "new old house" (The front door still doesn’t open. I need to buy a new one)was actually the person who most influenced me to buy a house…my good friend and realtor Greg Elliott. Greg and I have been friends since way before he became a realtor. Actually it's fair to say that he’s been one of my BFFs for more than 20 years! There's only a hand full of them floating around. Believe me, we both have the blackmail stories that go with such a long and mututally successful friendship and needless to say I don't think either of us will ever use them. Needless to say this will be delicately worded blog! 

Greg Elliott is the BEST realtor in all the world! The sad thing is after buying this house is that I immediately posted that as my Facebook Status much to the chagrin of my other realtor friends. They quickly and good-naturedly pointed out my politically incorrect post and I do see their point. But come on, at the moment I was partial. I’ve always been partial to Greg! If I had to choose member to a kickball game, an alliance for the TV show "Survivivor", or someone to have to go on a criminal spree with, Greg would always be in my posse. Well at least I'd always invite him!

He’s one of about 5 people on this Earth that would make me lose on that old TV game show “Make Me Laugh” by just looking at me the wrong way. Believe me, for me buying a house was not a laughing matter. That’s why I really am grateful to Greg, not only for his loyal friendship over the years, but for taking on the thankless task of helping me to buy a house. Believe me, no commission in the world could be worth selling me a house (especially one under a hundred thousand). I often think “Greg made me buy the house” more out of concern for my well-being and security than anything at all.

When I say Greg made me buy the house, it’s not that much of an exaggeration. I don’t know if I would have done it if he wasn’t able to make it such a non-emotional experience and some levity gratefully. It was more like getting me through a hard work-out by telling me I could do it at all the right times. Greg wouldn’t hover over me about me buying a house, yet he consistently and factually would keep me appraised with the great opportunities that buying a house in this buyer’s market would afford. He eventually made me see that my emotional stubbornness was keeping me away from not only making a good investment but frankly in this case cheaper than most rentals! Once I dove in, it was so much easier than I thought (Of course Greg's reassurance was always helpful.

Greg Elliott is a great friend, not only to me, but too many people.. So yes great sense of humor. The perfect amount of intelligent sarcasm and acerbic wit mixed with not being too evil. Greg is also very kind in general.

He’s a great business man as he still is the Owner of Synergy Educational Services, an educational travel company he’s been running since the one we both worked at was driven under by the ridiculously self serving expenses of an arrogant owner (Not that I’m bitter). But funny how Greg has kept his company making a profit since the day it opened; something our former boss never could seem to do. In fact, I have worked part-time for Greg's company on occasion and got to see many schools and teachers we worked with in the past.

I remember Greg when we were 20, then 30, then 40! Wait, I take the 40 back. And it’s been really cool to see him transform over the years into who he is now on the inside and out. Not that he ever looked bad, but he’s only grown better looking over the years which is always a source of comparison pain to me. Greg took me to my first spinning class at the YMCA and despite his efforts to convince me not to do everything everyone else was doing for the entire hour, my stubbornness prevailed and I could barely walk for a week.

Whenever I’m looking for inspiration to take me to the next level whether it be fitness, finance, or friendship, Greg has always been there for me. I TRUST Greg. So if you are thinking that now might be a really good time to buy a house, you may want to call OLD TOWN PROPERTIES and ask for an appointment with him. I promise you Greg will have YOUR best interests in mind. He certainly won’t BS you! Having bought, kept and flipped several properties of his own over the years, he knows houses inside out and what it will take to make an old home, YOUR NEW HOME! I put in about $4,000 and already would say that this house jumped $20,000 in value over the first three months I owned it.

I am grateful to have Greg Elliott as a friend and as my realtor. Because of Greg, I have a house. Because of the love and patience that many people have invested into this house, I now feel like I have a home.

Featured Song: A House Is Not a Home -Chris Colfer (Of GLEE. Yes, i'm a GLEEK!)

Featured Quote:
"A true friend is someone who says nice things behind your back.”

Friday, October 1, 2010

I can DO BLUE can you DO BLUE?

OK! Honestly, it wouldn’t be that hard for me to say I’m becoming way too jaded as a professional fund-raiser and consumer. Ribbons and walks are all starting to blur together to me. I’ve now literally started to affiliate causes and illness with colors!

When I think pink I think it’s breast cancer, yellow its Lance Armstong’s Livestrong, and Red is HIV AIDS or the Organization ONE that had everyone wearing those Inspir(RED) shirts. While, I admire Susan G. Komen for getting her own M&MS, I’m not sure I want to think about breast cancer while I’m eating them.

I could go on, but I think there may be a little part of me that is just jealous, because as an Arthritis Foundation employee, I often wish that people would associate arthritis with something other than the elderly. To this day, I can tell you that the majority of the people I have met don’t realize kids get arthritis! It’s such a misunderstood disease.

Well, I may have got my wish! This October 12th is World’s Arthritis Day and the United States and the Arthritis Foundation are participating for the first time and in a big way. And our mission should we choose to accept it…..”DO BLUE”!

I have to admit, at first, it sounded a little funny to me. I mean, can you do a color? Isn’t that not only physically possible but just begging for parody? Sorry I digress, at least BLUE is one of my favorite colors, so visually this ought to be an aesthetically pleasing promotion.

Still what do I do?? And how exactly does one “DO BLUE”? Is it a dance? Of course my first thought was dying my hair blue but come on, that’s so obvious! Not to mention that I have never died my hair so there’s a little fear of the unknown there. I mean they do have ones that rinse out the next day, right? I’ve got to come up with something unique and creative. I am feeling the pressure now. I don’t want to be out-blued by anyone!

I think the beauty of the promotion is instead of something limited like “WEAR BLUE”, this opens things up to allow people with arthritis to express themselves in anyway by using the color blue. Blue shirts, blue toe nails, blue face paint, there are really no limits to how someone can “DO BLUE”.

The moral of the story, as an Arthritis Foundation employee, it’s my job to make you stop and take notice that this October 12th, is a day that 46 million Americans, and 300,000 children that live with the painful reality of arthritis are for the first time uniting with the entire world to bring attention to a cause that is very personal to them.

I am so grateful for my creative friends. Throughout the years many of you have helped produce benefit CDs, art calendars, design T-Shirts; I could go on and on. This time I am humbly asking for your help to turn Orlando blue on Oct 12-World’s Arthritis Day. Some cities are even lighting up skyscrapers! I’m hoping all of you will find some way to “DO BLUE” on that day, and take a picture of it. Then send the picture to me at or post it on my facebook page at I will be using the photos to create a You Tube video and a photo essay for our Foundation’s Florida State E-newsletter that goes out to approximately 25,000 people through the state. Please consider joining us in our efforts! It’s just one day, but it’s a very important day to me and many of the families that I have grown to love along the way. Thanks!!!

Peace, Love & Music T

Related Quote: I think I have something tonight that's not quite correct for evening wear. Blue suede shoes.
Elvis Presley

Related Song: Blue-Eiffel 65

Monday, September 27, 2010

(The Love Shack Series)

I don’t think I’ve ever felt so grateful and yet so anxious at the same time. I’m laying here looking up at a beautiful FULL-MOON from my new backporch (well it's new to me) totally transfixed. Then suddenly the reality of having to work tomorrow seems to steal something from the moment. My prescence! I comfort myself by saying it’s normal. And it’s situational. Relax, Enjoy it. Savor it. Live in the moment.

They say moving is one of the top 3 stressors in life. I’ve moved a lot in my life. But this is my first home purchase as a single adult male. Some people would call that a late-bloomer. In fact, I was determined to not buy a house until I was ready to “plant roots” and settle on a primary city to live in. It took having one of my best friends become a realtor, a co-worker’s phone call convincing me I could plant roots for a season rather than my life, and this less than favorable economy we’re all experiencing to make me buy a house. Not to mention years of therapy.

Now here I sit, papers signed, house 75% finished. Well, I guess finished is a relative term in this case. It doesn’t have to be perfect. I just want to have a housewarming party. But alas the kitchen and ‘Jack and Jill” bathrooms aren’t quite “party worthy”. Neither is the kitchen. However, I have had people in my house. They’ve slowly come, to see and share, inspire me, and help me. More than anything I have gifted plants which is really helping me to discover a whole new world, the outside .

Having been trapped in a my own little world inside my head for the vast majority of my life, I love new worlds and experiments, and this blog has been far too empty, far too long. It’s supposed to just be practice anyway! But I’ve been blocked. I’ve been having writer’s block, mental blocks, road blocks, and way more on my plate than normal having! Hasn’t everybody? I just bought my first house. Isn’t that excuse enough to pardon my self inflicted procrastination?

But in my endless search for balance, it’s only fair I turn some attention to writing. I usually only write when I’m inspired. As a songwriter, that’s my favorite way to write because it just flows in a very surreal spiritual manner. But for me, a blog is a form of literary exercise. I need to learn to write when I’m not inspired. I need to learn to conquer writing blocks. So I’ve plotted a writing workout for myself! It involves a house that love built, and the first group of visitors that have blessed it with their presence.

These introductions will likely occur randomly as I write other stuff for the Arthritis Foundation, excerpts from my forthcoming children’s book trilogy (a fictional series starring my Godchild and niece Elana as an extraordinary child that discovers a family secret that sends her on a magical journey courtesy of the moon, the moonflower cactus, and a big imagination.), and basically my slighty warped but well- intended perspective on LIFE and LOVE.

I hope that if you are taking the time to read my musings you will honor me with your participation by commenting with anything these words bring up for you, be it criticism, or compliment. Anything is better than nothing!


Related Quote: "There's No Place Like home!", "Home is where the heart is!", "Whereever I lay my hat is my home".

Related Song: Coming Up Close -Til Tuesday
Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Who is ARTHUR? And why is he hurting our kids?

It’s not a new idea. If anything it was overheard. I was at my very first Arthritis Information Meeting as a new staff person for the Arthritis Foundation about two and a half years ago when I first heard his name mentioned. It wasn’t from a Doctor. It wasn’t from any of my staff friends or volunteers. It was from this funny senior lady in a wheelchair. She had an amazing sense of humor and was making me laugh throughout the meeting much to the dismay of my supervisor.

Then she said it; a sentence that still intrigues me today. “Arthur sure is doing a job on my knees today.” First of all I had no idea what she was talking about so I kind of smiled and kept trying to figure out what she said. And then, she kept mentioning Arthur. So I finally asked her outright…Who’s Arthur? She was there with two lady friends who giggled politely at my naivety, or stupidity. “Well child (She actually called me child, I loved that being over 40 and all), Arthur is my nickname for my arthritis. You see, we’ve been together for awhile now and I feel I’ve earned the right to call him Arthur”.

That was the whole exchange! But yet, I felt like for the first time someone was letting me in on an inside secret for people with arthritis. Many of them refer to arthritis as Arthur. No big thing to most people, but having just tried to get an interview on 4 different morning shows, I was struggling to prove to my media friends that talking about arthritis would be entertaining and not just educational. Even since that day, the majority of the people I talk to in media or even in corporations trying to get sponsorships or support, arthritis often doesn’t seem important enough because it’s that disease we all get when we get older. Something no one really wants to hear or think about until they have to. I often wonder if we did a poll to all the people in the USA how many of them would realize that 46 million Americans live with the disease including 300,000 children. I wonder how many would know it’s the leading cause of disability in America and can sometimes be fatal in children and adults. These are facts that now I’m able to ramble off like the alphabet because I work for the Arthritis Foundation.

After much thought and discussing it with a few key volunteers, we decided to personify arthritis by giving him a full name. Mr. Arthur Itis. We have even started a Florida State Facebook page for him where close to 800 people that are currently connected to the disease share and support each other, trade stories, post articles, and connect.

For those of you with a connection to arthritis, I encourage to try a month long experiment and feel free to comment back with what you discovered. Anytime you go to use the word arthritis, substitute it with Arthur. If nothing else, it makes people wonder what you are saying and they’ll ask you to repeat yourself and listen closer. In some cases, it will really make them listen! For example “Arthur hasn’t been very kind to my daughter this week, she’s been in serious pain”. Or even “Arthur sent my son to the hospital”. Even though it wasn’t initially a new idea, I have found that personifying arthritis into “Arthur” has made the disease just a little more relatable.

I also firmly believe that children with arthritis have a better time with visualization exercises and relating directly to their illness if it has a person’s name. I’ve even asked some of the kids I’ve been working with to draw a picture of Arthur and the results have been surprising and interesting. It’s much harder to draw a picture of arthritis.

So join me and some of my friends in not only changing the face of arthritis by showing people just how many different ages and types of people are affected, help us change his name to something a little more user friendly and attention getting. We need all the help we can to get people talking about Arthur!


Related Quote: "Words have meaning and names have power". & "They do certainly give very strange, and newfangled, names to diseases.”

Related Song: THE NAME GAME (Remix) -Shirley Ellis

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Wow! In less than week I gave 73 people that I care about the chance to help kids and adults with arthritis by asking them to make any donation to my Let's Move Together Arthritis Walk Team "Tony in Orlando". I know, pretty-self-serving name, right?

Well here's a secret..NEVER FEEL BAD OR GUILTY ABOUT DOING SOMETHING SELF-SERVING IF IT WILL HELP THE ULTIMATE GOOD. I have a saying and you can quote me because it's been very powerful in my life. "Guilt is a useless emotion to me, unless I'm using it on someone else". Sounds pretty sinister huh? Truth is I was raised Catholic then Jehovah Witness so I tell people "I got the best of both guilt religions (said lovingly and jokingly)". My mom just looks at me and she has this incredible ability to just sigh and make me feel guilty. Being a hypersensitive person,GUILT played a starring role in the first three quarters of my life. It only has a cameo now and then since I turned 40 (The new 20).

Anyway, I digress. This blog is about "The Numbers Game".
I hope you will find it helpful with your own fund-raising duties if you are fund-raising now.

My Experiment:
Ask 100 people I love to make a donation to my team.

My goal: $1000 (based solely on my first Arthritis Walk in Lakeland more than 2 years ago!)

Experiment Status:
In just a couple days with only about 25 more people to ask, I am 59% to my goal!

Now I know what you are thinking...where am I going to find 100 people to ask??? Well remember it's all relative. If you have ten people, ask all of them and set a smaller goal! We're all different, and it's THE ASKING that is our important duty and the divine intervention comes into play after we do our job. Doesn't the bible say THE CREATOR tells us to plant the seeds, yet it's THE CREATOR that makes everything grow? Well plant as many seeds as you can and let GOD work on the ones that are possibilities. But it's you that's planting the seeds of LOVE in their heart!

Think of it that way and suddenly ASKING feels a lot like LOVING people!

Here's some types of people to think about:
Hairdressers, grocery store manager, school mates, teachers, friends, family, church (a big one), social clubs, Facebook (most friends list their e-mail addresses on there info page), exes (that's been a real profitable category for me, haha) and there are so many more!

Where do you spend all your money?? Ask there.
Parents of kids with arthritis, ask your doctors and pharmacists or hospitals and pharmacies. Just ASK!! And for those of you that are too afraid to ask, while I hate to say it, the ONLY way past that fear is to make yourself ask. I've been there. But believe me, when you feel or see someone responding it's a very deep touching feeling. And you will be so happy you conquered that fear. When you think about it this way; that you are NOT ASKING rather GIVING someone the opportunity to feel better about themselves, suddenly the NOS are less important! Sometimes it's the people you'd least expect to give that do! Sometimes it changes your perspective of them and you find that you see them and relate to them on a deeper level.

Wanna feel some encouragement? Let me tell you now about my beloved mother Carla Dyer and the MASSIVE numbers game she's amidst playing which may put things into perspective for you. Yes, my poor mother gets willingly dragged into being a volunteer at almost every charity I've worked for so far. But can I tell you, I think I'm literally more proud of my MOMSTER these last couple years than just about any other volunteer I've worked with to date! We've grown and learned together and it's a VERY COOL thing!

My mom is the Team Captain for "The Publix Painkillers." She recently mailed a letter our to 300 store managers asking for a donation to her team. There's still some time left, but she hasn't got one response yet. In her store, she asked 39 people for a donation and got $1 dollar! The other day we were on a walk together talking about it and after she shared that, sadly I related! I said that one YES and 39 NOS isn't a unrealistic thing right now. That's almost par for the course. Especially for the Arthritis Foundation because NO ONE who isn't touched directly doesnt realize how serious it is, or that kids get it, or that KIDS DIE FROM IT!

Anyway, my mom is trying hard not to be dicouraged and she keeps talking about "waiting for the popcorn to pop". And I know just what she means because recently two days after my e-mails, my popcorn started popping and I'm 59% to my goal of $1,000. Frankly, I am really surprised. Let's see if I make it! As for mom, she's already reached her goal. Her goal was to ask every Publix store manager in Central Florida to give to her walk team. The donations if she gets them will be a bonus. Remember, THE POWER IS IN THE ASKING! I'm proud of you mom. And I can't wait to get the call when her popcorn starts to pop! :) Believe me, you can't do something of that magnitude and not get some popcorn eventually. the Publix Team will eventually take off. She's about to take it STATEWIDE with our new FLORIDA STATE VIRTUAL ARTHRITIS WALK (A new venture we're hoping will allow people to participate in areas we have no walks. Sadly there are so many areas in Florida we can't afford to staff!).

Anyway, I will keep you posted in THE NUMBERS GAME PART TWO as to whether or not I reach my goal, but I TRULY HOPE that keeping you posted helps you feel encouraged in some way. If not, I'm wasting my time blogging cause I have so much work to do this week. Our Arthritis Walk is on Saturday! Send some LOVE this way and we will use every drop! I'm really looking forward to meeting some of the newer attendees that I've befriended through our Facebook Page "Arthur Itis". I feel like I've known some of them for years and we just met online.

Peace Love and Music
Tony In Orlando

Applicable Quote:“He who is afraid of asking is ashamed of learning.”
Danish Proverb quotes

Applicable Song: The Numbers Game-Theivery Corporation

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Hello I'm Tony Ward.

I live in Orlando.

Being a night owl, I normally write at dawn.

So that explains the name. Now how to explain the blog or why I'm even blogging?

Well, even though I'm making a living as a non-profit fund-raiser development person (Currently for the Arthritis Foundation), I consider myself a writer. I write songs, press releases, parodies, interviews, and I'm starting my first book. I am also a MUSIC FANATIC and have "musical tourettes" which means I break out into song occassionally and have absolutely no control over it. I eat, sleep, breathe and bleed MUSIC. I believe that MUSIC is the language of the SOUL.

I'm hypersensitive and very spiritual. I can read energy and have empath abilities which I am just learning how to exercise, control and understand. Sometimes in this world I feel like an alien, because there is so much pain and suffering that living in this world feels like a blessing and a curse. I think any human at this time in our world is bound to experience depression if they really care about anything other than themselves. But without darkness, how would the stars ever reveal themselves to us?

I thought blogging would be a good way to take a stand for peace & positivity and also be a good form of exercise to help hone my craft. I believe I have a unique positive voice, and I certainly have a unique perception of most things because of my extraordinary life experiences. Some of which are:

I am over 40. Was raised a preacher's kid in a very strict Christian religion, and have grown more into a spiritual person rather than a religious one. My religion is kindness, at least that's what I am currently trying to practice. My spiritual belief is that "All things are possible". So I have no wish to judge or criticize any belief system. I am not a politcial person. I consider my self a citizen of the world. I have 13 brothers and sisters and 33 nephews and nieces (including the great ones) so I have had the pleasure of seeing a lot of life through the eyes of a lot of people.

I believe that GOD is LOVE so I try to be as loving as I can and surround myself with like-minded wildy positive and optimistic people. Mean people and negative people suck! I mean they literally suck, as in suck all the good energy out of you! I also believe that LOVE is ENERGY and moves through each of us in different and mysterious ways. So I am lending my voice to the world or anyone that will listen as a source of LOVE and a loving perpective. I'm no better than anyone else, we are all made of the same thing. It's just some of us like to express ourselves more than others (That would be me) and some in writing (Me again).

I hope that anyone that stumbles on my blog and takes any part of this journey with me will be touched, blessed, entertained or even have their life changed for the better in someway. I know our interactions will change mine for the better. Words can be used as weapons, but never here. I dedicate this space to people who want to connect to the good in each other, or even the GOD in each other.

I don't have any time to waste on anything that isn't going to promote, LOVE, positive energy, growth, and laughter since it is a great medicine in these times that are so trying on our souls. But you can expect me to write about people and situations that inspire me. I work in a field where MIRACLES happen everyday. I am very fortunate.

Thanks for your time! Please comment if you are so moved, and remember, we all have something to learn from each other. I look forward to learning a lot from this experience.

I feel it very appropriate to end my first blog with my Personal Daily Mantra. I try to read it everyday. It is called GROWTH. I wrote it but can't take credit for it because it was inspired. So if you like it, pass it along for free! Read it everyday and let me know if it's changed your perspective on LIFE like it has to mine. And remember, you can't have GROWTH without growing pains. So hang in there. If you ever need a friend, here I am!

Inhale gratefully
Exhale with praise
Exercise empathy
Learn from mistakes
Embrace with warmth
Cleanse with conviction
Nourish your soul
Flower with appreciation
Touch with heart
Reach out frequently
Always be helpful
Listen respectfully
Revere all life
Meditate mercifully
Freely forgive
Bloom with intensity
Shower with love
Grow with confidence
Share your joy
Bask in providence
Care about others
Plant many seeds
Practice acceptance
Respect all beliefs
If you have to let go
At the end of your rope
Finsih gracefull
Start over with Hope.

PEACE, LOVE & MUSIC>Tony in Orlando

Related Quotes: "My Religion is simple, my religion is kindness.", The Dalai Lama

Related Songs: Intrument of Peace -Olivia Newton John


For my beloved volunteer friends out there....thank you for asking!

I was blessed with a curse. Having worked as a non-profit fund-raiser for most of my career, I’ve grown totally not afraid to ask for things on behalf of a cause. Doesn’t bother me in the least! Some people think this is a talent. It’s not- it’s just persistence shift and sincere concern for whatever mission I am serving. I believe that any person who overcomes their fear of asking will be a successful fund-raiser because success in fund-raising comes from the asking.

The perceived curse with “asking” is revealed in “rejection”. But it’s only rejection if you choose to perceive it in that manner. If you change your perception of hearing the word “no”, you will not only strengthen your resolve, it can also help you feel a new sense of freedom. Getting a yes or no from a donor or corporation is not important. What is important is, YOU ARE ASKING!!! Have you ever heard the quote from Hockey Player Wayne Gretzky, “You’ll always miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”? Well in very much the same way, if you don’t ask, you won’t receive. The more you ask, the more you’ll receive.

Anyone can be a successful fund-raiser. You just have to focus on why your mission is important to you personally and give people the opportunity to help by asking. And asking as many people as you can. If it’s important to you, it will be important to them to help if they can. That only makes them feel good. There are many different approaches and every one of them is needed and important. In my job for the Arthritis Foundation, I rely on my volunteers to ask on my behalf. We are constantly encouraged to remind them that a VOLUNTEER asking for something is much more powerful than staff asking. That is so true! Most volunteers shy away from fund-raising, where as some seem to excel at it. What’s important as volunteers is we MUST ASK.

The problem is that so many people are AFRAID to ask. I understand that fear. We all FEAR something. What I have learned from my own life experience is the area in my life where I have had my greatest fears have actually been blessings in disguise and allowed me to learn the most about myself. The best way that I have learned to overcome my fears is by facing them head on. So if you are afraid of asking, the best way to overcome it is to ask! The great thing is as volunteers, we are usually provided with helpful staff more than willing to help us through that process and help us grow.

People want to give, and you will find them! But when you have to ask 15 people to get one yes, it’s a little sobering. Rest assured, you are not alone, especially in this economy. But you can’t look at the “nos” as failures when the truth of the matter is you have successfully given 15 people the opportunity to make a difference by supporting your mission and one of them accepted. Your asking becomes a gift to those benefiting from the funds and awareness and for those who can feel good about saying yes to a cause that touches their hearts!


Related Quote: “You’ll always miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” Wayne Gretzky

Related Song: If You Asked Me To - Celine Dion