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I'm be speaking at the happiness 2012 conference

Happiness 2012 Poster

About seven years ago I wrote an essay in which I explored the consequences of the American Protestant work ethic compared to different work styles in similarly developed countries overseas. I found a number of unsettling pieces of information as I carried out the research for this paper. Among them were the facts that the average U.S. employee spends more time commuting to work than rearing their children, more value is typically placed in a person's job title than their character, and that stress-related disorders and deaths are directly correlated with the number of hours we put in at work.

John De Graaf is one of the people who directly inspired my research into this topic. My outlook on work and the role it plays in our lives changed significantly upon reading Affluenza: The All Consuming Epidemic in my macroeconomics class. While I didn't know it at the time, as I started writing that essay, I was embarking on a journey to change my value system. Until then I was caught up in the acquisition of 'stuff.' Now, I realize stuff is just that—stuff. With the guidance of a few other leaders and mentors in my life (Notably Dr. Don Parks and Dr. María Lowe) I began making professional decisions that aligned with my values as much as they did my strengths.

Just under a year ago, by chance, I happened upon John De Graaf after a taping of an interview with Bainbridge Graduate Institute Founders Gifford and Libba Pinchot at KCTS Channel 9. This Saturday, I will have the opportunity to speak on the the role of messaging and media in the global discussion on happiness alongside De Graaf and several other esteemed researchers, practitioners, and academics at the Happiness 2012 conference held tomorrow and Saturday (August 24th and 25th) at Seattle University covering the topics of health, compassion, environment, emotional well-being, education, community, arts & culture, finances, time balance, government, and workplace satisfaction. I'm slotted for Saturday at 2:30 p.m. PST. If you find any of these topics interesting, there's still time to purchase your tickets. General admission is $55 and a discounted rate of $40 is offered to students and low-income individuals. Day passes can be had for $35 and $25 respectively. Today is the last day to purchase your tickets in advance on Brown Paper Tickets.

Episode 8: Interview With Chris Davila

When I met Chris Davila at the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center the first thought that came to mind was, “Wow, she has some awesome hair.” However, it didn’t take long for me to discover there is much more to Davila than cool hair. She is currently living her dream of working in the arts in her hometown of San Antonio. She says she loves what she does because she has the opportunity to work in a career in which she feels fulfilled, working and giving back within her community. The story of how Chris realized this goal is interesting and inspiring. Faced with the opportunity to settle with mediocrity, she instead decided to take control of her life and follow her heart through several obstacles to find herself where she is today. Her journey continues to be one of self-discovery and growth.



Sometimes It Is What It Is: Why I Love This Poster


Before I start, let me thank Melissa Lojewski, for unknowingly let me steal this picture from her Facebook page.

I love this poster because it makes a strong and simple point: it is what it is. Why do we have to qualify everything? Sometimes a person is a person. Sometimes a phone is a phone. We love descriptions to the point where we often OVER-describe things. For instance, why does someone have to be “athletic for a woman,” “well-spoken for a black guy,” or “cool for a rich person?” Why can’t they just be athletic, well-spoken, or cool

People often describe me as, “the whitest black guy I know.” I always ask what that means. As of yet, nobody has been able to explain. While I love to play basketball, eat chicken, drink Kool-Aid, and listen to R&B, I also love to read, write, start and participate in conversation, volunteer, and travel. Do any of these activities make me more or less black or white? I don’t think so. Last time I checked black and white were both still colors, not sets of behaviors.

Just this past weekend, my mother (whom I see about once or twice a year) came down to visit. I showed her around some of my favorite spots. We started the day in one of the  most underserved areas in the city and ended at a wine bar. I felt comfortable in both.

Enough about me. Back to the poster. This poster is important not because it’s a “gay” poster, but because, well, it’s important. You can substitute “gay” within the poster copy for any other descriptor, (e.g., tall, short, disabled, black, white, emo, smart, athletic) and “marriage” for any other noun, (e.g., immigration, conversation, education), and it still makes sense. While there are many specific issues we need to address, sometimes we need to take a step back and see something for what it is. Sometimes it’s very complex. Sometimes it simply is what it is.


Liz Feldman is a comedian, presenter, actress, and writer. She is also the author of the blog This Just Out, which can be found here.

Gowalla Trips: San Antonio Culture Crawl


I’m fairly new to the geo-tagging service provided by the folks over at Gowalla, but one of my favorite features thus far is “Trips.” Once exclusive to a select few, now every Gowalla member can create a trip (list of “spots” where a person must check-in in order to complete). When people check-in, they can leave comments, tips, pictures, etc., which makes these visits a little more exciting and engaging. There are several public trips available for historic spots, pubs, bars, and other venues. I decided to create one for cultural exploration here in San Antonio. The name of the trip is San Antonio Culture Crawl, and includes places such as the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center, Witte Museum, Artpace, and others. If you find yourself in the area and are a Gowalla member, please feel free to check out the trip and tell me what you think. Please leave any comments below in this post or on Gowalla when you check in.