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5 – 6 – 7 – 8 — UPDATE! Woo Hoo! Dancing is upon us!


Isn’t that CUTE?!?!

dancer's clockGet it?

“5-6-7-8” as in the count off which dancers use to start dancing and then…

…TahDAH!  “Update”  Woo Hoo.

I think I shall keep it and use it as a standard “Quickie” header for a four point update post.

Whatcha think?

Five…

man counting coins

You may have noticed a theme in the last few posts and a flurry of activity…

Yes, you have correctly noticed that I’m kinda freaking about about MONEY! It is because I need it and I don’t have it.

Why? Well we are in the Fall.

And “Fall” is when I have to do an oil change on my truck, a tune up on my truck, get my truck inspected and pay the annual registration taxes/tags to the State.  It is also when my AAA (American Automobile Association) membership renews each year.

AND it is one of two times a year (every six months) when my auto insurance renews.

And this time $#@#$@@##$@@!!!!! Progressive, which is otherwise a pretty good insurance company, RAISED MY FRIGGIN INSURANCE RATES FOR NO APPARENT REASON other than the money sucking fat cat capitalists want to GET EVERY LAST penny out of people like me who live below the poverty line!

Aaaarrrrgggghhhhhh!!!!

Yes, I’m stressed.  And I need money, so I’m trying to sell some stuff and yes, I’m begging for donations (which no one has ever actually done…) sigh

Want to be the first?  The donate button is always over there in the right hand column…

Or you can buy a cool design from my online store: TxCowboyDancer Designs

And check out “My Online Garage Sale” — There will be more stuff added to it over the next little while.  Most of the stuff will be dance related in one way or another.  — No, I can’t have an “actual” garage sale.  The complex I live in has rules against that kind of thing.  SIGH

Six…

2010 WorldsLine Dance World Champion! — Yes, that’s me in the top spot! Graduating into the Advanced Division!

However, the “once a year bills” are not the only money stressor.

There is a bigger one that is directly related to my long-term goals of getting fit and healthy.

(By the way, I use big words – once a gain my spell check had no idea what a particular word was.  In this case — what a “stressor” was.  I had to add it to the dictionary on my computer.)

I admit defeat.  There.  I said it.  I will never ever “exercise” for the sake of “exercise.”

I hate exercise.  I will. NOT. Do. It.

But I do love to dance!

Dance is not exercise.

Dance is fun.

Dance is passion.

Dance is what I miss MOST from “before” my health went to crap.

Dance is what I love to do — which my body “thinks” is “exercise” but which my mind and my heart sees as “fun”

Cycling is the other one, but DANCE has the potential to also enable me to MAKE money eventually and dig myself out of this financial hole that I’m in because once I get to a certain level of fitness, I can start TEACHING dance again!  So Dance gets priority over cycling.

And, “dance” is what will help me become physically fit and healthy again!  Who Hoo!  Woot even! and YeeeeeeeHawwwwww!

But for now, at the outset, Dance is also a money-stressor.  sigh

Why?  I’m glad you asked.  🙂

I need choreography…

dance-stepsOne thing that is adding to my stress levels is that I need money to pay for Choreography.

As part of my (1) return to dancing and competition dancing and (2) as part of my efforts to become fit and healthy, I want / am planning to / strongly desire to compete in Showcase Line Dance next year.

I can choreograph, but my choreography, compared to a talented professional choreographer is like a child’s finger painting compared to a Picasso or Monet.

I have only begun to play around with choreography and that is what my choreography looks like – a beginner’s efforts.

And folks you don’t “win” at Worlds with choreography that looks like a beginner’s efforts!  A major portion of the scoring for Showcase Line Dance is the quality of the choreography!

I need the help of a Pro!

I have my first choreographer lined up.  She has agreed to do it for $80 per hour.  She is an amazing dancer and choreographer with years of experience.  She has even choreographed for Hollywood and Broadway!

She thinks it will take 3-4 hours do to it which means that I need between $240 and $320 to pay her for the choreography.

Read the rest of this entry

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This has been a good week… Doin’ a Happy Dance!


Life is lookin’ good!

Calvin and Hobbes Dancing

Just a quick rundown of some great things that have been happening to me over the past few days…  Woot!  Uh-huh!  YeeHaw!

  • I’ve been feeling a LOT better, more energy, moving around easier, more active.
    ..
  • I am now within spittin’ distance of 300 lbs!  Woot! This will be a major milestone, just a few more pounds!!  Yay!
    ..
  • I’ve started planning for next year’s “Dance Competition Season”  Woot!  Check out my updated Calendar to see which events I think I’ll be attending… — I’ve started looking at dances and music for next year.  I’ve already been invited to perform in the Saturday night show at the Texas Hoedown in March!  Thank you Virginia for the invite!  I start rehearsals on Monday. It will so good to get back into the studio!
    ..
  • My Blood Glucose levels are mostly within the target range.  My big challenge is taking my meds on a regular schedule.  My sleep cycle keeps messing up my “take the meds” time.  *sigh* but it is getting better!  Progress!  Not Perfection!  Woot!
    ..
  • I’ve been cleaning out old files on my computer, sorting them, deleting them, renaming and organizing the ones I need/want to keep.
    ..
  • And over the past few days, I’ve had a sudden surge of folks buying stuff off of my design store: TxCowboyDancer Designs!  Woot!  Uh-huh!  It really does make me feel good when something I created is bought by someone who thinks highly enough of it to lay out some cold hard cash.  Even at a measly 10% commission.  But hey, I ain’t gonna turn it down!  Woot!Here is the current “Top Dozen” most popular designs on my site:

My top twelve designs 2015-09-09

  • Also in the “graphic design” front, one of my very favorite designs was purchased this week *and* it appears in the Top 12 for the first time!  Woot!  It is a photo I took when I visited Banff, just outside of Calgary, Canada.  I fell in love.  I actually checked job listings at their local library when I got back home to Texas.  Alas, there were no openings.  *sigh*  Here is the photo for your enjoyment (or if you wanna buy something with it on it, well that works too!)  LOL

    I mean, I’m not a pro photographer by any stretch of the imagination, but sometimes you get lucky…  *sigh*  I wish I could go back….

Banff - Canada

  • And, finally, I’ve noticed over the past few days that I am more flexible, I’m able to reach and twist more that I could a month ago.  Life is good.

 

 

The future is looking brighter…


Yes, I’m aware that it ain’t gonna be easy…

lolcat-bright-future-cat-wears-shades…but for the first time in a VERY long time I am optimistic that I will actually get fit, healthy and dance again!  What’s that?  Do I hear the teeming masses asking “But why do feel this way Tony?”  I thought I did…  😀

Brace yourself, you’re about to enter Tony’s brain….  where you’ll see a chain of thought that will mystify and amaze you!

But first because I’m in SUCH a good mood, I’m going to give you the “short version”  — I’m going to tell you the ROOT SOURCE of all this awesome positiveness:

The diabetes medications I’ve been taking for a little over two weeks now are working.

Which means I’m not as hungry all the time.

Which means I’m loosing weight.

Which means I’m feeling better, both physically and psychologically.

I’m moving more.  I have more energy.  This morning, I saw a number on my scale that I’ve NOT seen in a long time… [drumroll please]  … 310 lbs!  Yay me!

One of the most frustrating things over the past couple years has been working to get fitter and healthier and NOT seeing any friggin results!

Who knew that there was this underlying obstacle called “diabetes” which had to be dealt with first BEFORE my hard work would produce?  Well, now I know. Now the meds are doing their job. Now I’m working at getting fit. And best of all… …Now I am seeing results.  Life is good.

About that tour of my brain….  heh he he heh

I updated my Event Calendar / Schedule

Dance CalendarYou can clicky click on SCHEDULE any time up in the menu at the top of my blog from any page in my blog.  Or if you are really not into scrolling you can click this awesome link I put here just because I like you:  SCHEDULE / CALENDAR

I have spent most of today updating my calendar, looking at the events listed on the IAGLCWDC website, the UCWDC site, the ACDA site, and the World  OutGames site, evaluating them, looking at the dates and considering costs, timing, etc.

Toss in a few side trips to AmTrack, to Southwest Airlines, Eurorail and American Airlines, well you kinda get the picture of what I’ve been doing since I got up: day dreaming about competing in dance again!

Well, not really day dreaming, exactly.

Let’s be generous and call it “long range planning” and “goal setting” and “motivational imagery.”

I love that last one… “motivational imagery.”   Sounds cool don’t it?

Goal Setting

When setting goals you need two kinds:  Read the rest of this entry

Macro, Micro, and Meta-Mucil


There is actually a “Method” behind the madness…

Motivation is what gets you going.  Habit is what keeps you going.If you’ve been reading my blog recently you know where I’m coming from:

333-335 lbs at my heaviest,
not healthy in any sense of the term,
and certainly not fit!

But I’ve not really talked very much about where I’m going.

And I’ve not talked very much about how I’m getting there.

Oh, I will…  I definitely will.  Watch for future posts on specific techniques.

For now, so you have some context in which to place this post you are reading, I have to very briefly give you a broad overview of what is going on as I make this journey to Health & Fitness.

Basically, I’m applying organizational skills that I acquired from my former life as a librarian to the task at hand.  Business practices like Gantt charts, procedural assessments, time management techniques, task efficiency studies, task check lists, etc.

The reality “on the ground” is that my life is in a certain state (one which I don’t like).

I strongly desire it to be in a radically different state!  Getting from here to there, Read the rest of this entry

My life right now…


…with my fingertips glued, mostly, to the keyboard…

OR…

Why I’ve been going on and on and on and on about my graphic designs (for now) …

To Do List (CC)You folks who have been following my blog for a while know that I’ve gone through periods where I talked about dance and nothing but dance.

Then there were long periods where I talked about loosing weight, eating healthy and getting fit and pretty much nothing else.

In fact, there have been periods where just about any and every topic under the sun became the “topic dee jur” for several “jurs” where I talked about that thing a LOT… and nothing else but that for a while.  (my friends from France just probably had a heart attack at my butchering of their native tongue.  Sorry guys.  🙂

Why do you get stuck on the same topic for a while?  I hear the teeming multitudes (all fourteen of you) asking…????

Because well, I blog about my life.  And whatever is going on in my life at that moment.  And I’ve been working a LOT on these designs lately trying to get as many as possible online and ready for people to buy in time for the Christmas Season.

AND because I see the end of my 401k (on which I’ve been living) coming to an end in Feb,

AND sales from these designs are one possible replacement for that money and a way to remain self-employed, 

AND I hurt my left arm / shoulder about two months ago and it still hurts and working on the computer (and these designs) is something I can do that doesn’t make the arm/shoulder hurt worse

AND THOSE things, dearest readers, are topics for another blog post.  The topic “de jur” is:

How was that for wicked teasing?  Hmmm? (One must confess that I’m grinning like a bad boy at the moment)  Watch for an update on those other tantalizing tidbits later…

But I digress.  I do that you know…  😉

My latest design

I love booksYou fine folks reading this…

(didcha catch my witty pun?) look to the right at the design…  Get it?  *snort* *giggle*

I started off with “reading” in the sentence.  ROFL [slapping knee and grinning foolishly]  And my design  *guaff* *snort* *giggle*  is about BOOKS!  Woot!

I crack my self up sometimes….  See what happens when I do a blog entry with only three sips of coffee in me?  Be afraid.  Be very afraid.  😉

Anyway…  long time readers of this blog may recall that I have a Masters Degree in Library Science.  And, until early last year, I worked as a Librarian.

I love to read.  Well, duh.  LOL

So here is a design with that in mind:   “I love books”  / “I ♥ books”

Since this is just the fourth post in this new series, here is a reminder about the format.  Each post will have three parts:

  1. A large image of the new design
  2. A bit of background on how the design came about (just below)
  3. A few of my favorite products with the new design (just below that)

I hope you are enjoying the “back story” on the designs as I create them.

Even if you don’t visit the store and do some shopping, please hit the share and like buttons so that others can find out about my designs.  Thanks!

Background on my latest design:

One of the things that I knew early on was that I actually have very little drawing skill.  I mean I have a good size chunk of creative talent, all modesty aside, but the mechanical skills involved in picking up a pencil or paintbrush are things that I just do not have in my toolbox.

I can envision what I want but I lack the skill to actually produce it in a traditional “artistic” sense.  Thankfully graphic design doesn’t really require 100% creation from a blank page, or in this case a blank screen.

You can build upon the works of others.  So part of what I do is look for photos or clip art which is CC 3.0 BY, CC 3.0 BY-SA, or Public Domain. (If you want to read more about it what those letters mean, check out the first article in this series)

I love books

I love books – original photo. Licensed under CC 3.0 BY jamarmstrong on flickr.com

I start with an idea, which is mine.  All mine, then I start scouring the Internet for images which are kinda sorta what I want and with work and modification in a graphics program will fit the idea I have in mind.

I wanted to do a “I love books” design.  And I found this photo.  I really loved the warmth of the colors but there were several problems from the standpoint of a “graphic” for shirts, mugs etc.  Here’s what I did to turn it into a more workable design:

  • Square fits more products than rectangle designs and are easier to work with
    — So I added extra background to the top and bottom
    — I smudged and blended the extra bits so they looked like part of the original photo
  • When using text in a design “Level” is best
    — so I rotated the image to level out the pages of the books
  • Clarity and focus are important
    — meaning that elements which muddle the picture have to be removed, so the red bookmark ribbon was removed
    — and since the “heart” created by the pages is definitely the focal point of the photo, I moved the book over, cropped one side, added borders on the sides (like I did for the top and bottom), smudged and blended so it looked like part of the original photo.
  • The letter "I" with a color gradient matching the original photo.

    The letter “I” with a color gradient matching the original photo.

    Big is better
    — (getcher mind outta tha gutter!)  *ahem*  Go ahead.  Laugh.  Get it out of your system.  *sigh*  Moving on… The small text in the original photo was removed
    — I looked for a “dramatic” font online (one which had commercial permission)
    — I then used the MAC Text Edit program to create a black version of the font; I did a screen grab to convert the “text” into “graphics” and imported the “I” and “books” into GIMP, the program I use for working on my designs.
    — I then reversed the colors making the text white and the background black.  I deleted the white, making it transparent.
    — Then, and here’s the cool part…  I pasted the now, transparent text onto the photo, moved it around until parts of the warm yellows and reds and golds showed through and when I found a spot I liked, I then took another screen shot, got rid of the “black” background, making it transparent, leaving the text in glowing warm colors which matched the photo.  Tah-Dah!
    — Then it was just a case of moving the text around until I liked the positioning.  Woot!

For the record, I am quite proud of myself.  Why?…  I hear the teeming masses (all three of you) asking…?

I love books 400x400 small TORNBecause, dearest readers, I had to LEARN to do all that flippin stuff.  Fiddlin’ and Finagalin’ with Fotos ain’t like makin’ coffee!   Sheesh!  Can we say “learning curve?”  OMG!  No wonder graphic designers / computer geeks get paid so much!   For the record, understanding layers for me was the hardest part.  It is finally starting to click but only in the most basic sense.

An-Knee-Ways….  I’ve come a long way.  And it is all self-taught.  Just little ole me (and lots of very helpful YouTube videos) learning how to do it.  And I’ve only scratched the surface of what is possible.  *grin*

In all seriousness, what makes me so proud of this design is that I had this picture in my head.  And the final design came out very much like what I had in mind.  Woot!

My favorite products with the new design…

As a reminder, since this is only the fourth announcement of designs using this new “standardized format”…  I’ll share with you a few of the products from the first batch on which I think the new design looks awesome.   If you want to see all the products with this design, then click on one of the many links scattered through this post and hop on over to the store…  Cheers!

Read the rest of this entry

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