Zander Keig: Beyond Race Or Gender

Zander Keig, LCSW 

shares with us his experiences, indicative of a deeper causality of discrimination
that taps into a primal fear of 'the other' that transcends race or gender...

Podcast available

I met Zander

at a friend's house-warming party.  We spoke of working within the government agency system of therapy and had a lively discussion.  I went home and "friended" him on Facebook  - I then discovered my new friend was quite a fascinating person, having lived a life of social advocacy for the LGBTQ population.  It was when I clicked on a link to his website that I saw he was not only an advocate, but a well-respected person in that community who had actually gone through the transition from female to male. 

Zander Keig is a unique individual, not only because he used to be a she, but because his life has been one of overcoming tremendous hardships, starting at birth. When Zander was born, the doctor predicted he would be dead, but he was not.  Then when he was 6, he developed encephalitis - he went into a coma and when he awoke, he had to relearn some basic life skills all over again.  Zander's life since then has been a journey of self-discovery and social advocacy.


Zander and I discuss:

  • His early life struggles and some family reflections
  • Why he identified with the "separatist lesbian" community and what that meant for him
  • How and when he began identifying as "trans"
  • Why he feared Testosterone
  • How he and his wife created a relaiotnship that has withstood the stress of transitioning
  • How his education helped him understand those that did not understand him
  • Why he decided to edit and write books and articles on the subject of transitioning when his own transition is a very private experience
  • Why trans men are often invisible in our society
  • How intentionality informs his relationship with his wife
  • The strange thing that happened when he went from being seen by society as a 1st-generation Mexican-American lesbian to a highly-educated white male - where did his culture go? 
  • The prejudices he experienced both pre and post transition were not what you'd think! 

Questions and Comments

Although we have comments turned off this blog in general, Zander welcomes your questions and comments.  Feel free to email me, or leave a comment or a question on my facebook page  and I will be happy to pass it on.  



Zander speaks of some of the books he's edited, the documentary being produced about his life journey and his website.  Here is where you can find those resources:


Film: Episodes of Zanderology

Books Zander has been involved in, including Manning Up and Letters for My Brothers can be found here



Awkward Correction on my part

I realized when listening back to the produced episode that I was saying "LGBT and trans" when, of course in LGBT the T stands for trans - I don't know why I was saying it that way, but that's how it came out.  To anyone that thinks I was "not aware" - I am, I just speak faster than I think sometimes and it results in awkward verbal trip-ups.  


Coming Up on The Coaching Through Chaos Podcast

I just returned from the Podcast Movement conference for podcasters.  I learned a lot and made so many great new friends.  What I learned has led me to decide to make some changes to the structure of what I bring you here at The Coaching Through Chaos Podcast.  The next episode will actually be a re-boot: I will be telling you about my life journey through chaos, what it means to me and why I am doing what I do.  After that, I'll still be bringing you some great interviews, but you will understand more about what that topic means to me and how it might help you better navigate the chaos in your life. My intention is to bring you a high-quality show and that sometimes means to recognize how and when to make changes in what we are doing here.  That next episode launches August 2, 2016.  

How do you support us? Subscribe and Review

We've set up the podcast so that you can listen on both Android and Apple devices.  We are currently still on the "What's Hot" pages of iTunes in a couple of categories, but we stay there longer when we have more reviews.  When we stay on those pages, we also get seen by more people looking for great new shows to listen to.  We'd love for you to go to and leave us a review.  When you're there, be sure to click "subscribe" and set yourself up for auto-downloads of our future episodes.  On non-apple products, you can listen on soundcloud,, stitcher, or maybe you already have the "Podcast Addict" app downloaded on your Android phone - when you're in Podcast Addict, just search for Coaching Through Chaos - you can subscribe right there as well! Thanks for all your support so far!!




Have you ever found a note on your car, or found one on the street that was intended for someone else?  Well the people at FOUND Podcast by Wondery Media have developed an intriguing new show in which they work on discovering the origins of these notes.  I met the Wondery Media folks at Podcast Movement and I love what they are developing. I wanted to give them a shot out here and encourage you to check them out! 


SHRINK2SHRINK: Like Siskel & Ebert with a Psychological Twist! 

Have you listened to my friend and fellow therapist Courtney Calkins and I chat about our favorite movies yet on Shrink2Shrink? We launched a new monthly show a few months ago- our current episode is Creed, but we have also covered The Martian, Gone Girl, Inside Out, and Train Wreck! Our next episode launches on the last day of July - we'll be talking all relaiotnship and psych aspects of the fun Disney movie Zootopia! If you grew up watching Siskel & Ebert review the movies like Courtney & I did, you'll enjoy this- you'll definitely know if we liked the movie, but we also ad a psychological component to the discussion.  We pull  out our favorite clips from the movie and then we discuss all the relationship and psychological themes of the scene.  It's been great fun and we appreciate all the love and support we have received so far! Check it out Shrink2Shrink on iTunes


Until next time.......

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Dealing with a Narcissist

Darlene Lancer, JD LMFT

 ~ educates us about narcissism and how to deal with a narcissist, as discussed in her new book...


Podcast available

The topic of narcissism seems to be all the rage of popular fodder on the internet and the pop news shows these days. But what they are really referring to is our “selfie generation”, the millennials vying for attention on social media. They have really mislabeled an entire generation of people.

Today we are exploring what it means when you find yourself in a relationship with a true narcissist. My guest today is Darlene Lancer, JD, LMFT.  Darlene first joined me in Season 1 to discuss how to help yourself to break codependent behaviors in relationships. That episode is still one of our most popular to date. Please check it out if you haven't already. A natural progression for her work with codependent people turned to exploring narcissism.
Why would this be a natural progression you may ask? Well, when someone is codependent, they sacrifice their emotional needs for those of their loved ones, often taking on a care taking role with a partner. It is not uncommon for these people to find themselves in relationships with alcoholics or drug addicts, as these people need to be taken care of in many ways and they are often unable to meet their partner's emotional needs due to their addictions. Narcissistic people would also have a tendency to attract codependent people as they are consumed with their own grandiosity and keep people close to them who do not challenge them to meet their emotional needs, allowing the focus of the relationship to remain on them and what they want.

Darlene's latest book, “Dealing with a Narcissist: 8 Steps to Raise Self ­Esteem and Set Boundaries with Difficult People” explores the emotional upset that can happen when one finds themselves in a relationship with a narcissistic person.


What is Narcissist?

A narcissistic person is one who meets diagnostic criteria as set forth in the “diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM­5)” which is the manual the medical and mental health field use to diagnose patients. It is NOT just a term used to describe someone who is self ­focused on social media.

DSM­5 criteria for narcissistic personality disorder include these features:

  • Having an exaggerated sense of self­ importance
  • Expecting to be recognized as superior even without achievements that warrant it
  • Exaggerating your achievements and talents
  • Being preoccupied with fantasies about success, power, brilliance, beauty or the perfect mate
  • Believing that you are superior and can only be understood by or associate with equally special people
  • Requiring constant admiration
  • Having a sense of entitlement
  • Expecting special favors and unquestioning compliance with your expectations
  • Taking advantage of others to get what you want
  • Having an inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs and feelings of others
  • Being envious of others and believing others envy you
  • Behaving in an arrogant or haughty manner

Although some features of narcissistic personality disorder may seem like having confidence, it's not the same. Narcissistic personality disorder crosses the border of healthy confidence into thinking so highly of yourself that you put yourself on a pedestal and value yourself more than you value others. (­ personality ­disorder/basics/symptoms/con­20025568)

Finding oneself in a relationship with a narcissist can be an emotionally draining and painful experience.
In this interview, Darlene and I dig deep into what the dynamics of that relationship can look like, communication strategies that can be effective for expressing your emotional needs and how to take care of yourself emotionally.


What's Coming Up?

Next up on The Coaching Through Chaos Podcast is my interview with Zander Keig. Zander is one interesting guy – and not just because he used to be a girl! Watch for that episode on July 19

Shrink2Shrink: It's like Siskel & Ebert with a psychological twist!

My latest venture in podcasting has been the launch of the Shrink2Shrink show with fellow podcaster and therapist Courtney Calkins of the Quadcast Podcast. Courtney and I dissect the psychological aspects of popular movies. As of today, we've explored “Gone Girl”, “Train Wreck”, “Inside Out”, “The Martian” and “Creed”. You can check out a sampling of it right here.

Follow & Subscribe

You can follow me on Twitter @DrColleenMullen

You can subscribe to the Coaching Through Chaos Podcast on iTunes at

You can subscribe to Shrink2Shrink on iTunes here

If you want to stay updated and get some cool tips on living a positive life, sign up for my mailing list at­list/ When you sign up for the emailing list, you'll receive a free copy of my ebook: “5 Ways: 100 Tips for Living a Happier, Healthier Life”as my Thank You to you!

Resources on Darlene Lancer and Narcissism

Darlene's website: and

Get the Book: Dealing with a Narcissist: 8 Ways to Raise Self­Esteem and Set Boundaries with Difficult People

Mayo Clinic: Narcissistic Personality Disorder

The New York Times: The Self(ie) Generation

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Staying Zen while Dating Online

Dee Wagner

 ~ co-author of Naked Online, a modern day Zen and the Art of Internet Dating, speaks of some of the trials and tribulations involved with online dating, and how to stay zen in the face of it all


Podcast available

Are YOU One of the 49 Million people in the US who have tried online dating??


I know I am! And I know most of the people I know who have been single in the past 5 years have as well - it seems that there is an endless number of website, apps and services dedicated to helping us find love from the comfort of our  living rooms.  There's Match, eHarmony, PlentyofFish, Zoosk, OKCupid, Craigslist, Tinder, Bumble, Grindr, Hinge ....just to name a few.  I don't know about you, but it can be overwhelming when you even start to think about the prospect of creating a profile- let alone one for all the sites you'd like to try.  My guest today not only found love through online dating, but she wrote a book on staying zen while doing it! Dee Wagner, along with Cathy Jernigan and Dee's partner John Cargill wrote "Naked Online: A DoZen Ways to Grow from Online Dating.  Dee was in the process of writing the book when she met John through her dating journey.  Dee is a psychotherapist, John's a designer and Kathy is a freelance writer.  Together, they designed a manual for keeping your sanity, managing your relationship anxiety and overall staying zen while exploring the universe of online dating. You can find them at


In this interview you'll hear about:

  • How the authors of Naked Online intended the book as a guidebook and how they envision their readers utilizing it
  • How a person can find their "zen" while engaging in the often anxiety provoking behavior of online dating
  • Why it's important to be in love with yourself as you write your online profile
  • The fantasy component to meeting someone online
  • The "Email Checking Addiction" and how to cure it! 
  • Ways our attachment style informs our relationships
  • Why it's so difficult for people to talk about what they want sexually once sex enters their dating relationship
  • Why internet dating can feel lonely even though you may be swimming in a sea of dates! 


Fun facts about Online Dating:

I found so many fun websites with facts & figures about online dating- I thought you'd get a kick out of them -

Here goes:

Pew Research - 5 Facts about Online Dating

The Richest - 20 Shocking Facts about Online Dating

Huffington Post - Online Dating Tips

Statistic Brain - Online Dating Statistics

Guest Resources

You can find Dee Wagner  at:


Twitter: @LustierLife

Amazon: Naked Online: a DoZen Ways to Grow from Online Dating






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Preserving Intimacy while Raising Young Children

Quentin Hafner, LMFT

 ~ practicing in Orange County, Quentin shares tips on how couples can maintain their intimacy when they start having kids.

Check out Quentin's upcoming workshop



Begins July 01, 2016

Podcast available

Quentin Hafner, LMFT

Preserving intimacy is a tough chore for many couples, but particularly when couples enter the baby-making stage of their relationship it can become quite difficult.  Quentin Hafner is a licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in private practice in Costa Mesa, CA where he specializes in couples therapy and working with Dad’s and husbands. 

In particular, Quentin loves working with couples that have young children and are striving to navigate this difficult life-state transition.  Quentin is living his own work and through his own experience and education has come to greatly understand the inner workings of how relationships can change once baby (or babies) come along.  

Preserving Intimacy when Children Enter your Life

In this episode you will hear:

  • How Quentin's experience informs his own work.
  • Why pregnancy can add stress to a relationship
  • 3 Things every 1st time expectant couple should anticipate
  • If there really is a "best time" to have a baby
  • The biggest obstacle to relationship satisfaction in the early months of parenthood
  • How couples can  keep their sex life alive when they have n infant or a toddler int he home
  • Why taking time away from the baby or the kids is so important to preserving intimacy
  • How parents can find creative ways to get sitters they trust so they can have some couple time

Want to learn more?  Quentin has a special offer for Coaching Through Chaos listeners

On July 1st, 2016 Quentin is launching his online workshop "Re-Connecting Marriage Workshop; an 8-week online marriage workshop for parents with young children".  When you register for this workshop and mention Coaching Through Chaos, you will receive a 50% discount off the cost of it! How great is that?! 



Workshop Site:


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Urban Street Angels San Diego Helping Homeless Youth 1 Bar of Soap at a Time in San Diego

Eric Lovett

 ~ Founder and Executive Director of Urban Street Angels and 8 West, helping homeless youth from around the country, who inhabit the streets of San Diego's seemingly idyllic Ocean Beach

Podcast available

A Sweet-Smelling Old Building? 

When you walk into the old building behind the church on Polk Street, yes, it looks like any community center building that could use a face lift.  But then, when you notice the cots in the back corner, and the tables of folded clothes, the welcome signing signs, and the few young smiling faces you know something more happens here.  And then there is the smell of the soap......what? Well, we are at the 8West headquarters.  It may not look like much, but they are doing thing for homeless youth that reaches much farther than the beautiful smell of the soap they make there. 

The 8 West company was born out of the Urban Street Angels organization here in San Diego.  The Urban Street Angels have been serving the homeless community here in San Diego.  They go out 8 times per month delivering both food and hygiene kits to people in need.  That's great, right?  Well, they felt they could do more, especially when they were finding that so many of the people in need of their assistance were young adults.  In San Diego, there are over 3,000 homeless young people aged 18-26.  Over 3,000 - just here in San Diego!!! That's tragic!  There are so many paths to homelessness at that age.  It can range from having escaped an abusive household when they were younger, to having lost a job and not being able to support themselves, to having the parents abandon them, to having been raised by a homeless parent, to having "aged out" of the foster care system without knowledge or access to transitional aged youth (TAY) services.  

When Eric Lovett, the Founder and Executive Director of Urban Street Angels started noticing this trend of young people living on the streets, he wanted to do more......but what?

8West is born

It started with him opening up his own home to a few of the young men to give them shelter and a place to call home.  Then he would try to connect them to jobs in the community.  This task, however beneficial to those few he could personally assist, was overwhelming when he thought of the need of all the other young people living on the streets.  He wanted to help solve the problem, not patch it with a band-aid.  He knew he needed to help find a way for these young people to not only have a place to call home, but he wanted to be able to provide them with job skills that would be not only practical but would also give them a sense of pride.   He ran through a few different actual business ideas with his colleagues and eventually decided on forming a company that would make beautiful soaps and be contained within a sustainable business model.  Out of this idea, the 8West company was born. The youth would get housing and food and would work at the soap company to learn the trade skills and the business skills they could use in their future life.  

8 west retail
8 West team members showing off their fabulous retail items: soaps, baseball caps and canvas totes.


What does the 8 West company look like now? 

Through the sales of their soap and some generous donations, they now have 2 homes for the 18-26 year old young people in need.  They can now house 12 young adults- 6 female and 6 male.  Eric also found that there were not a lot of TAY programs that were universally accepting of all people.  He found that there was a strong need for a program that would be welcoming to the LGBT (& all other identifiers) community.  He made sure that 8West was that place.  Once a week, there is an open shelter night where those in need who they just don't have the capacity to house can come and sleep, get some hygiene products, clothing, and dog food (a high percentage of the transitional age youth on the streets have dogs - sometimes for protection, other times for companionship) among other things.  

this isa homeless youth shelter in san diego
People are getting hat they need during the weekly shelter night.


Who makes the soap?

8 west residents making soap
8 West team members creating my favorite of their soaps: Flower Fields
8 west making displays
A few 8 West team members creating the custom soap displays from reclaimed lumber.

The house residents make the soap a few days a week.  Many of them also hold other community-based jobs as they work on saving money to try to make the most of their 9 month stay in the house.  Each bar of soap is beautifully wrapped with a custom label.  Each soap has a distinct name that is reflective of a San Diego landmark: The Kissing Statue, Sunset Cliffs, Pirates Cove, The Pier, Orchard Avenue, and my personal favorite, Flower Fields.   These young people learn about making the soap, marketing, cost pricing, ordering supplies, distribution and all other aspects that go into this business.  

8 West soap display
This is the 8 West soap display in the Coaching Through Chaos waiting room


Ending the Problem of Homeless Youth

faces of 8 west
Just some of the many volunteer team members at 8 West and Urban Street Angels

Eric and his team are on track to continue to open new houses in San Diego, but this progress does not come easy.  He has plans to double the amount of residential beds in the next year.  After that, well, he's love to one day be able to provide housing and skills to ANY homeless youth that needs it.  But it can only happen with community support.  That's where you can come in.  This business survives and grows only through it's soap sales or through direct donations. The shelter is in the same building as where the soap is made.  For now, they are making very good use of the space they have, but as they grow, they will eventually need a larger working facility in which to make the soap.  You can even buy the soap online.  Their online retail shop even includes baseball caps and fashionable canvas tote bags. From a bar of soap to a large contribution, every bit of support helps.  

What if your not in San Diego?

In my interview with Eric, he's quick to point out that they are not talking with me only to promote and help 8 West's efforts to end youth homelessness in San Diego.  No, he wants to help raise awareness of the overall problem of the homeless youth in our country.  You may not see them everyday, but know that there are homeless people ages 18-26 in most metropolitan communities.  Eric wants you to become aware of who is living on the streets in your community and what organizations can you connect with in your own community to help end this staggering problem. 

8west interview
Me, Eric Lovett (center) and 8 West resident Nick- you can hear his story in my podcast interview.


This one's personal for me...

Sometimes we never know how or when we will be struck by emotional lightning.  I was struck the day I discovered the 8West.  I had recently begin talking about some hard times in my young life that caused me to leave home at 17, just before high school graduation (you can listen to that interview here on the School of Psych Podcast).  Due to unfortunate circumstances and no where to turn that felt safe, I ended up homeless and living in my car for about 3 weeks. I was ashamed. I was depressed.  I thought I was worthless.  And that was only my experience of 3 weeks on the street! Imagine the young people who are on the street for months, or even years.  With my own past at the forefront of my recent thoughts, I wanted to find out what was close to me here in San Diego.  I discovered the 8West video on YouTube.  I knew, that moment, that I needed to get involved with this organization.  I emailed them through their website at about 6:30am.  Eric responded almost immediately.  When we met, I couldn't help but feel choked up for the girl I was at 17 with no one to turn to.  I wished there was a place I could've escaped to. Knowing that 8 West exists here in my own community is healing for me personally - to know that our culture has evolved enough to recognize that these types of programs are necessary.  They are problem solving in ways not thought of before.  Here at Coaching Through Chaos, I've made it my personal mission to help support them in any way I can - to give them a voice through the podcast interview, to help fund raise through sales of the soaps in my office, and to enlist my team of clinicians to donate time and services as needed to the young adults in the program.  I feel compelled to help.  

I hope this interview inspires you to help in your own way in your community.  



1.   8West website

2.  The 8West YouTube video that inspired me to contact them.

3.  Urban Street Angels Website

4.  An Article by the government research agency SAMHSA discussing the pervasive problem of homeless Youth in the United States: The Hidden Homeless

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