ADA 25th Anniversary

ADA, the Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law on July 26, 1990. The ADA is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places that are open to the general public. The purpose of the law is to make sure that people with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else. Throughout the year and on the ADA Anniversary, the ADA National Network participates in celebrating this landmark event as a way of bringing attention to the important work that has been done to promote equal opportunity for people with disabilities and to highlight the work that is yet to be done. reports that about 56.7 million people — 19 percent of the population — had a disability in 2010, according to a broad definition of disability, with more than half of them reporting the disability was severe, according to a comprehensive report on this population released in 2012 by the U.S. Census Bureau.

A CDC study, drawn from 2013 data, says 53 million Americans have a disability. The researchers of this study defined a disability as a self-reported difficulty in one or more of five areas: vision, cognition, mobility, self-care or independent living.
src: Prevalence of Disability and Disability Type Among Adults — United States, 2013
     CDC MMWR July 31, 2015 / 64(29);

Map showing prevalence of disability in USA adults (2013)

Human Instruments

Episode #9
Vahakn Matossian introduces Human Instruments and their technology that breathes new life into creativity and expression for disabled musicians..

Vahakn Matossian Human Instruments Podcast


Otherhood with Melanie Notkin

Melanie Notkin

  ~ Author of Otherhood and Savvy Auntie discusses circumstantial infertility and the growing demographic of PANKs in this Auntie's Day special edition. In your 20s, if you dreamed of finding a partner and creating a family, and your life didn’t exactly go as planned leaving you single and not wanting to have children without a partner, listen in – you’ll find you are not alone…

Podcast available

Move over Punks, the PANKs are here!

People are remaining unmarried longer today than they ever did before. Sure, sometimes this is by choice, but very frequently, both men and women report just “not having found the right person”. This leaves a few million people single well into their 30s and early 40s without children. My guest today calls that “circumstantial infertility”. Melanie Notkin’s best-selling book, “Otherhood: Modern Women Finding a New Kind of Happiness” chronicles her personal experience of being single in her 30’s when what she really wanted was to be married and creating children. Melanie and thousands more women (and men) are holdouts for the traditional life where we get married then make decisions to have babies. In a longitudinal study published in 2012, over half the babies born to women under 30 were born to single mothers. There was another study in 2012 that reported that 1 in 5 adults over age 25 had never been married ( We live in a society when, if we are otherwise healthy, getting pregnant is not all that difficult. Even when we find ourselves alone in our 30’s, if we’ve got enough money, we can get pregnant outside of a committed relationship or participate in donor insemination and start our family without a mate. Many of us can even afford to raise a child on our own if we want. That’s not the issue with circumstantial infertility though. Circumstantial infertility is when the only reason you are not having a family is that you don’t have the partner to create one with and you do not want to create a child outside of marriage.

Melanie’s book tells stories of conversations she had with both male and female friends who were in their 30’s and early 40’s contemplating their options for having a family. Melanie had already started the conversation by launching her website. On, women can find community and information that when we are childless, we can feel left out. I say “we”, because I was part of the circumstantial infertility club, although I am now childless by choice in my mid 40’s. I am definitely “Auntie” to a few special  children in my life, but childless women in their 30’s are left out of conversations about child-rearing or developmental milestones as if we don’t want to participate. Most of us would love to participate but don’t get the chance. Melanie shares about her own dilemmas about whether or not to freeze her eggs “just in case”. The book highlights the vulnerability that arises when we otherwise have control of many things in our lives, except finding a partner and having a family.

Throughout the podcast, we cover:

  • The story behind "Otherhood"
  • What is a PANK?
  • The frustration between what some women want in life and what they actually find
  • The vulnerability of coming to terms with one's circumstantial infertility
  • My own personal experience with being part of the Otherhood
  • The assumptions that are sometimes placed on "older" single women (& men)
  • Grieving the loss of being able to make biological children in a committed partnership
  • Melanie's own vulnerability and decision making process as she moved through her 30's
  • Melanie explains the Savvy Auntie community
  • Target marketing the Aunties and PANKs in the world

(Melanie joins me in the episode at 9:56)

Happy Aunties Day!! 

From your host, Colleen Mullen, and the team at the Coaching Through Chaos Podcast :)


Melanie Notkin's website - to keep up with all that Melanie is doing for the Otherhood.  You can also contact her there for marketing consults and speaking engagements.

The Savvy Auntie website - here you can become part of the SavvyAuntie and PANK community.  You can also keep up with current trends in learning, books, entertainment and resources for the special kiddos in your life.

Otherhood on

Savvy Auntie on Facebook - Be part of the fun community of fantastic Aunts and PANKS here!

Circumstantial Infertility




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Happy Auntie’s Day

Happy Auntie's Day

This week’s podcast episode has been released a couple of days early to coincide with Auntie’s Day 2015.
The podcast features Melanie Notkin, author of Otherhood and Savvy Auntie and the founder of Auntie’s Day.
The special edition episode cover, embedded in the mp3 file and shown above, also serves as our e-card to wish you

Happy Auntie’s Day 2015 to all the PANKS out there !


You can find the companion article for this podcast in our previous post: Otherhood with Melanie Notkin

Please feel free to share via the social sharing buttons above or, if you would like to include a link to this podcast with the special edition podcast cover,  you can use the following html code in your blog or webpage …

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Financial success begins at Home


Jeff Motske, CFP 

  ~  Do discussions about money bring discord into your relationship ? If the answer is yes, you are not alone.  In this interview, certified financial planner Jeff Motske provides helpful tips to resolve this problem, as covered in his book - 'The Couples Guide to Financial Compatibility'. The solutions he provides will help you plan for the future, build a solid foundation for your financial house, proactively discuss finances with your partner and deal with boomerangs.

Podcast available

This year alone we’ve witnessed several companies, including Radio Shack close up its doors for good. Other major chains like Sears, Abercrombie & Fitch, Barnes & Noble, Anna’s Linens and Aerospostale have confirmed that they will be closing many if not all of their stores due to diminished sales and/or bankruptcy. These stories, although they may not affect us personally, can affect the level of stress we carry about our own financial situation. Its societal data points like this that remind us that financial success can be tough to achieve and can be fleeting.

Today’s episode focuses on how to help couples talk about money. My guest is Jeff Motske. He is the CEO of Trilogy Financial Services; host of the show “Declare Your Financial Independence” on 1110AM KFAX San Francisco, and the author of “The Couples Guide to Financial Compatibility”. Jeff talks with us about building a financial legacy; how to talk you’re your spouse about a family budget and how to talk with your adult kids about financial responsibility when they move back home. He’s also going to tell us all about his “War of the Wallets” quiz that you can take online with your spouse.
When Trilogy was in its infancy, Jeff started out meeting his client’s needs based on where they were in life and what their financial goals were. He took a small town approach when his competitors were sticking with Wall Street strategies. This approached has grown Trilogy into a nationwide company whose client’s investments surpass $2 billion dollars. Jeff provided us with a lot of insight and some great tips on helping couples talk about their finances and plan for life events.

We all feel the stress of money at times. Back in my single days, I used to imagine it would be easier to handle money stress when the day came that I would partner up and get married, as I imagine most people think. The problem is, it doesn’t actually get easier. In fact, depending on your situation, either a 2 -income or 1 - income household, it can pose new complications you didn’t have when single (i.e. power struggles over spending, deciding on how to budget, and setting financial limits). In fact, money can be one of the most complicated, or stress-inducing, subjects for couples to talk about. If you search online, you’ll find article after article about how money is the hottest point of contention between couples – I found numbers between 35-57% of couples complaining that money is their number 1 problem. Whether they argue or not, Couples face a lot of stresses in life in life: work, family, kids, who’s going to do the grocery shopping, who’s going to do the dishes. However, when different financial philosophies or struggles enter the picture, it can absolutely get them stuck. Money affects all of us differently. Our parents’ philosophy around money often dictates our own.
One person may be a spender; the other may be a saver. Sometimes they have similar philosophies both are spenders or savers. Other times, they walk blindly through their life believing their partner is handling the finances. Turning a blind eye to your financial situation and always letting your partner handle it can really get you into trouble. In a partnership, even if one person is the designated “bill payer”, its important to at least be apprised of your current situation on at least a monthly basis. In my private practice, I’ve come across couples who have literally avoided talking about their financial picture for years. Once a couple gets locked in this avoidant pattern, it can be hard to break, but it can be done.
A lot of what Jeff emphasizes for the couples to keep them healthy financially is similar to the work us marriage therapists do at times with our clients. One of the key components to a happy relationship is effective communication and you need that to do any of the things Jeff talked about. I think the financial date night is a great idea. When couples plan to set aside time to talk about finances (or any other stressful matter), it can relieve the stress of “how do I” or “when do I” bring up my questions or concerns to my partner. Just to make it easier to stay focused, couples can bring notes with them for these discussions. Holding the meeting under the guise of a “date” sets the tone that this is about connection and having the meeting outside of the home reduces the chances of the couple getting emotionally triggered and arguing over a difficult item. I would caution you that couples that have been avoidant of talking about their finances have probably been avoidant about other topics as well. Getting back into talking about these uncomfortable topics can add stress to an already stressful situation. Keep in mind that the financial date night, should be looked at as a time for collaborative problem solving and a time to express concerns effectively. If couples that have been avoidant in the past find that they’re still having trouble addressing the issue or don’t know how to go about talking about it, I’d recommend that they seek out a few sessions with a licensed marriage and family therapist. Most marriage therapists are interested in helping couples effectively communicate and develop the skills to talk with each other safely & authentically without needing the therapist. Deciding to go to couples counseling can be intimidating but it’s really not uncommon for couples to reach out when they are about to embark on trying new behaviors or ways of communicating to ask for help with that.

Whatever your financial situation is, Jeff Motske's book, "The Couples Guide to Financial Compatibility" can be a healthy starting point for exploring your financial philosophies as a couple and gaining some guidance on ways to discuss the financial planning of some of life's milestones.

Resources: You can find Jeff's book "The Couples Guide to Financial Compatibility" as well as his "War of the Wallets" quiz and links to Trilogy Financial Services here

Real Hope/Free communication tips providing some free helpful tips online for increasing healthy couple communication.

Harville Hendrix Intentional Dialogue Exercise Harville Hendrix is a master of couple relationship dynamics. He is the founder of IMAGO Therapy. His Intentional Dialogue exercise is a communication strategy designed to help you work through issues or disagreements that may be holding you back from a more intimate and fulfilling relationship with your partner.
Love Pong Love Pong is an interactive online game designed to help couples improve their communication and express their emotions more effectively.

Money issues are still really stressing out Americans - /

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The Warning Signs of Depression

chart of warning signs of depression
The above graphic was adapted for US conditions, the original comes from UK based
It is available  on a dark blue background (as seen above) or on a white background.

Students Against Depression: A website by students for students

One in four of us will experience some kind of mental health problem in our lifetime. One in 10 will experience depression or anxiety with depression in any one year. This statistic holds true for students and young people. Depression is one of the biggest dangers facing young people today – suicide is the biggest killer of young men under 35 in the UK.

The  website offers advice, information, guidance and resources to those affected by low mood, depression and suicidal thinking. Alongside clinically-validated information and resources it presents the experiences, strategies and advice of students themselves. Students, after all,  are the best placed to speak to their peers about how depression can be overcome.

Know the Warning Signs of Depression

  • Feelings of hopelessness and pessimism,
  • Feelings of worthlessness, guilt and helplessness,
  • Thoughts of death or suicide,
  • Restlessness,
  • Irregular sleep,
  • Decreased energy,
  • Changes in mood,
  • Insomnia,
  • Difficulty making decisions,
  • Appetite and weight loss,
  • Persistent sad, anxious or empty mood,
  • Tearfulness.


The iconography of despair

Being UK based, the original graphic uses European warning roadsigns as an iconography of  the symptoms of depression.  Because this image is so striking, we translated the iconography to reflect North American roadsigns in order to help spread the message of  Students Against Depression to a broader audience.  In reflecting upon the challenges of dealing with depression, the message goes much deeper than the chosen iconographic representation; whilst we may speak similar or even different languages and use different symbolic representations, the underlying concepts are the same, the core problems are the same. All people suffering from depression, students and young people in particular, need to know that help is at hand.
You are not alone.


Resources for U.S. Students

The following Q&A section comes from the National Institute of Mental Health website


Q. If I think I may have depression, where can I get help?

A. Most colleges provide mental health services through counseling centers, student health centers, or both.1 Check out your college website for information.

  • Counseling centers offer students free or very low-cost mental health services. Some counseling centers provide short-term or long-term counseling or psychotherapy, also called talk therapy. These centers may also refer you to mental health care providers in the community for additional services.
  • Student health centers provide basic health care services to students at little or no cost. A doctor or health care provider may be able to diagnose and treat depression or refer you to other mental health services.

If your college does not provide all of the mental health care you need, your insurance may cover additional mental health services. Many college students have insurance through their colleges, parents, or employers.
1 If you are insured, contact your insurance company to find out about your mental health care coverage.

Q. How can I help myself if I am depressed?

A. If you have depression, you may feel exhausted, helpless, and hopeless. But it is important to realize that these feelings are part of the illness. Treatment can help you feel better.

To help yourself feel better:

  • Try to see a professional as soon as possible—research shows that getting treatment sooner rather than later can relieve symptoms quicker and reduce the length of time treatment is needed
  • Give treatment a fair chance—attend sessions and follow your doctor’s or therapist’s advice, including advice about specific exercises or “homework” to try between appointments
  • Break up large tasks into small ones, and do what you can as you can; try not to do too many things at once
  • Spend time with other people and talk to a friend or relative about your feelings
  • Do not make important decisions until you feel better; talk about decisions with others whom you trust and who know you well
  • Engage in mild physical activity or exercise
  • Participate in activities that you used to enjoy
  • Expect your mood to improve gradually with treatment
  • Remember that positive thinking will replace negative thoughts as your depression responds to treatment.

Q. How can I help a friend who is depressed?

A. If you suspect a friend may have depression, you can help him or her get diagnosed and treated. You may need to help your friend find a doctor, mental health care provider, or mental health services on your college campus. If your friend seems unable or unwilling to seek help, offer to go with him or her, and tell your friend that his or her health and safety are important to you.

You can also:

  • Offer support, understanding, patience, and encouragement
  • Talk to your friend and listen carefully
  • Never ignore comments about suicide, and report them to your friend’s therapist or doctor
  • Invite your friend out for walks, outings, and other activities. If they refuse keep trying, but don’t push
  • Ensure that your friend gets to doctor’s appointments and encourage him or her to report any concerns about medications to their health care professional
  • Remind your friend that with time and professional treatment, the depression will lift

Q. What if I or someone I know is in crisis?

A. If you are thinking about harming yourself or having thoughts of suicide, or if you know someone who is, seek help right away

  • Call your doctor or mental health care provider
  • Call 911 or go to a hospital emergency room to get immediate help, or ask a friend or family member to help you do these things
  • Call your campus suicide or crisis hotline
  • Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s toll-free, 24-hour hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) or TTY: 1-800-799-4TTY (1-800-799-4889) to talk to a trained counselor
  • Call your college counseling center or student health services
  • If you are in crisis, make sure you are not left alone
  • If someone else is in crisis, make sure he or she is not left alone.