The Southern Expat Communique: New York observations of a displaced belle

What can a Happiness Index teach us?

Alexa von Tobel is at it again. This time, she is helping us determine whether wealth is tantamount to happiness. What do we learn from her today? In short,

1.   Money doesn’t necessarily make you happy. Duh.

2.   The wealth gap in our country is extraordinary: the top 20% of the country earns 8 times as much as the bottom 20%.

3.   There exists something called the Gross National Happiness (GNH) Index. By god, I think the Bhutanese are on to something by quantifying happiness as a kind of national commodity. Happy people are more productive, right?

Alright, kids, what are you going to do today to improve the GNH of your country, state, city, home? I might just schedule a field trip to Bhutan, Denmark, or Norway to learn from a happy example, you know? Let me know if you want to sign up! In the meantime, I am going to listen to some blues music (which I think is downright inspirational) and pick up a copy of The Geography of Bliss.

Have a beautiful day even if the sun isn’t shining above you!


The most practical article you’ll read all day…and why the TSA hates peanut butter….

I’ve come to love a website called LearnVest. When the company’s founder and CEO, Alexa von Tobel, visited my Junior League Financial Literacy meeting, I was hooked. Practical tools for working women who want to be debt free and more financially savvy? Sign me up!! I now am a devotee and an outright evangelist for Miss von Tobel’s wonderfully comprehensive website, designed to make women, well, better. I wait impatiently for her beautifully laid out, information-packed, daily emails (which take roughly 6 minutes to peruse if you’re really putting on your thinking cap) to populate my gmail inbox. Hey, you need a smart mid-morning read to go with that Lara bar, right?

I found today’s Learn Vest article  on smart packing especially helpful. I am a frequent traveller. From the time I was tiny, riding around Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas, and beyond, sitting in the back seat learning to read and playing the license plate game, to now, as I still travel (mostly fly) on at least a bi-monthly basis, trying to scare up resources for the non-profits I love to serve, I’ve been in planes, trains, and automobiles more than you can shake a stick at. This LV piece helps us avoid checked bag fees and offers some tips for fitting all of those “necessary” items in your teeeny bag.

Importantly, remember the TSA. They hate your peanut butter, so don’t even try to explain to them why it is a solid, possibly an emulsion if you want to get down to brass tacks. A kindly (and some may argue elderly) TSA agent told me about a year ago that my very special, unopened jar of Peanut Butter and Co. peanut butter was a liquid, or a gel, or possibly an aerosol, but certainly not a solid. I offered the scientific definition of a solid in rebuttal. The agent replied, “Ma’am, the TSA don’t much care about science. That peanut butter is going in the trash.” Duly noted, counselor.

As my dear friend and mentour, Dr. Antonio Lombeida, who once spent an entire weekend in Chicago armed only with the clothes on his back and what he had packed in a vintage, leather, doctor’s bag urges, “dress sharp, pack light.” Heed this advice, ladies; and, leave the peanut butter at home…after you read up on Learn Vest.