It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

(Or Not…If You Are Thinking About Divorce)

2015-12-07_14-04-19January is dubbed “divorce month” because many people are now saying, “Let’s make this the last good holiday for the kids and our families” or “Let’s wait until after the New Year when the kids go back to school.” No matter what the reason, divorce is never easy, and there is no good time for planning it. I know; I’m divorced and wished the first holidays away. I also can tell you, from experience, there is no last best holiday.

My first Christmas divorced went much smoother than I expected. I set realistic goals and put my children’s thoughts and feelings first. I even enjoyed the two hours alone and my glass of wine before they returned home for dessert. However, everyone is different, and both parties involved must be willing to put their kids’ feelings first. (Please note: The best advice anyone can give you through divorce: “Consider your children’s feelings FIRST.”)

If divorce is what you are thinking for January, you can still plan ahead, and, with planning, you may just pull off a wonderful holiday too.

1. Complete a budget. Fill out a budget of your spending over the last year. Ask your spouse to do the same since you’ll need this moving forward. Make a holiday spending budget with and without your spouse. Overspending over the holidays adds a lot of stress to happily married couples, so imagine the stress it adds to divorcing couples. Alleviate some of this anxiety by setting expectations on gift giving. I suggest that you both set cash aside and agree to only spend that. If cash is not an option, agree to a set amount to charge and write it down.

2. Be careful with credit cards!! Get a credit report at Credit reports allow you to see all outstanding bills and credit problems, if any. If you do not have a card in your own name, apply for one now. When going through divorce, oftentimes money is unavailable and expenses need to be paid by credit. If you only have joint cards, access may be shut off by your spouse. Be mindful that your friends may advise you to max out your credit, but they might be unaware that you may also be responsible for repaying the debt.

3. This is when year-end financial statements will be generated. Look for them in the mail and make copies of anything that you find. If you see prior year statements, gather them. Copy any and all credit card statements.

4. If you receive monetary gifts, keep them in a safe place out of your home. Don’t commingle them. Explore obtaining a safety deposit box or leave money with a trusted family member. This is also a good idea for storing any financial statements that you gather.

5. Be mindful of social media! Once you put it out there, it stays there forever. Think of how others perceive what they see and how it would affect your children. The world doesn’t need to know your business through divorce. Emotions take over, and poor decisions are then made. You should change all your passwords and create a safe place, perhaps a new email, to send and receive private financial and legal information.

6. Start thinking about your divorce team. Some of the advisors you may need are a certified divorce financial analyst (CDFA), mediator, therapist, CPA, CFP, and lawyer. Call me to help you put this team together.

7. Start a new tradition with your children, family, and/or friends this year. By doing this, next year you will all have something to look forward to, and you will enjoy having something new for now. This will also act as a reminder that this is not your last happy holiday but the beginning of a new happy.

8. Finally, play your favorite holiday music, journal the things that you are grateful for, and remember that this is a wonderful time of the year if we focus on the endless opportunities life has to offer!

Since my divorce, I made a New Year’s resolution to “Make the Rest of My Life the Best of My Life.” I thought it would be interesting to hear what some of my clients’ New Year’s resolutions are. These women are either separated, divorced, or in the thick of the process.

● “Create a budget and STICK TO IT.”
● “Always remember I have options! That way I never stay stuck.”
● “Embrace whatever life throws at me and accept that every day happens for a reason.”
● “Forgive and let go and move forward.”
● “Live the best and most fulfilling life I can and just be happy.”
● “Make a point to no longer feel guilty over things I can’t control.”
● “Looking to be excellent!!”
● “Get through a day without thinking how horrible my ex is.”
● “Once and for all to deal with my anger and allow myself to fully embrace happiness”
● “Focus on myself more; I’ve never really done that.”
● “Maintain a healthy body, be mindful, and practice loving kindness!”

Being a CDFA has allowed me to help many people through the divorce process. Raising five children has allowed me to understand what it is like to love unconditionally. Now, as a divorced woman, I understand this emotional process and how the holidays can be difficult. In time, things get better, and I look forward to you all believing that life is what we make of it and we can create our own happiness!

To the few clients whose resolutions I used above, congratulations on taking steps to a bright future. You all inspire me, and for that I am grateful. Thank you and Happy Holidays to you all!!

CSM Catherine_Shanahn Head shot.JPG

By Catherine Shanahan, Certified Divorce Financial Analyst
CSM Divorce Solutions
1705 Newtown-Langhorne Road, Suite 5
Langhorne, PA 19047


Robin Coppinger
Bucks County Women’s Journal
The only educational newspaper serving the women of Bucks County

Posted in Bucks County, Bucks County Attorney, Bucks County Local Paper, Financial Planning, Women's Magazine, Women's Newspaper | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

From Bicycle to Beyond

3-5-2013 4-50-27 PMOftentimes, a person has a preconceived notion about the potential for success. That innocent shortsightedness places an imagined barrier that seems impossible to cross. Other times, people push themselves, achieve greatness, and realize a life beyond their dreams.

Wilbur and Orville Wright were high school graduates from Dayton, Ohio who owned a bicycle shop. They became world renowned for their ability to design, craft, and build custom bicycles for racing. The Wright brothers had a vision that men could master flight. They used their imagination, ingenuity, observation, skill in design, discipline, and determination to build and test gliders on the coast of North Carolina. From these experiments, they were able to perfect the first airplane and successfully achieve manned flight on December 17, 1903.

These two brothers got off their bicycles and pushed themselves to explore and achieve something important that would benefit everyone for centuries to come. Some people, however, never get off that bicycle.

Over the past three decades of private practice, I have met many, many patients who have impaired hearing. These individuals are unable to understand soft speech, require others to repeat what they said, mistake some words for other words, respond inappropriately to questions and comments, need to have the television volume control placed at a higher- than-normal level, choose not to participate in conversations or groups because they can’t hear, etc.

Essentially, they are going in circles, repeating the same experiences and not making any improvements or changes for the better. They are riding a proverbial bicycle and do not realize they can make a change and dismount. They feel there is nothing available that can make a difference and help them have a better quality of life.

Their new avenue in life could be better hearing provided by a board- certified, licensed audiologist. This professional has the ability to complete an extensive case history, conduct a comprehensive audiological evaluation, review the results, and provide recommendations. This audiologist will help them get down off that bicycle and move forward in life.

Digital amplification has been available since about 1998. Technological advancements in the industry are easily in the 20th generation of development and are beyond the reader’s imagination. Amplification not only makes sounds louder but also makes soft sounds audible, normal sounds clear, and loud sounds tolerable and noninvasive. Speech is emphasized, and background signal is quieted—so the wearer is able to understand what is being said.

In addition, an array of wireless accessories allow patients to use today’s audio technology to best advantage. They can use a remote control to change programs depending upon the listening situations, whether it’s normal conversation, listening to music, watching television, or speaking on the phone. A streamer can be attached to their TV to wirelessly transfer the signal directly from the TV to the hearing aids. The television can be muted so as not to disturb others, and the signal is sent directly to the wearer for easy listening.

Yes, better hearing IS possible. But you need to make the choice to get off that bicycle and seek out what’s available to improve the quality of your life. Doesn’t that sound better than continuing to ride that bicycle to nowhere?

As 2015 comes to a close, it’s time to take stock and make the necessary changes you’ve been putting off. Make a commitment to yourself to check your hearing and find out what improvements you can make. The Wright Brothers dared to jump off the bicycle and fly. All you have to do is pick up the telephone and schedule an appointment to see a board-certified, licensed private practice audiologist to hear better today.

Murphy Hearing.inddI wish every single one of you a Very Merry Christmas for 2015 and a Happy New Year in 2016!

Patrick Murphy, M.Ed., CCC-A, FAAA
Murphy Hearing Services
330 North Main Street, Doylestown, PA 18901
215-230-9000 • Fax 215-804-1112
Follow Us On Twitter • @MurphyHrgSvcs



Posted in Audiology, Bucks County, Bucks County Local Paper, Uncategorized, Women's Magazine, Women's Newspaper | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Creating Wellness Through Balance

2015-10-07_11-47-24I’ve been a massage therapist since 2001 and became a Certified Life Coach in 2013. I’ve been involved in Health and Wellness on some level all my adult life. I’ve experienced and researched many trends and fads throughout the years.

What I found is that there are several different components to achieving health and wellness in your life. One that stands out considerably is creating a balance of mind, body, and spirit to the best of our ability. Creating balance empowers us with a stronger sense of self, helping us achieve an overall feeling of wellness. A major course of action toward wellness occurs when we begin to take 100% responsibility for our own feelings, thoughts, and choices. We all have an inner GPS, an inner Knowing that indicates to us what we need to look at that might be creating our imbalance.

Imbalance can also occur during a transitional stage of career change, divorce, relocation/moving, loss of a loved one, health issues, marriage, or becoming a new parent.

The top 3 essential building blocks for taking responsibility are:

1. Willingness ~ Willingness means deciding you are ready to take responsibility. You are ready to see things differently and ultimately choose to do something different.

2. Awareness ~ Awareness is the key to change; we cannot change what we are unaware of. Being present with our body, thoughts, and feelings connects us to the ability to notice ourselves. We become more aware of what is working for us and what isn’t.

3. Change of Being ~ Implementing the change of being is done through a series of small baby steps. The smallest step can create motivation to keep us moving forward. Most important is acknowledging ourselves for all the small baby steps we complete.

The balance may not be in how we count the hours in day. Instead, it is in knowing what we value most and making sure all the things we need in life are present and fully accounted for.

Total Serenity REV photoLisa Santa Barbara is the founder of Total Serenity Coaching and is an iPEC-certified Life Coach who also received training in Energy Leadership. Lisa’s extensive training coupled with her intuitive and deeply caring nature make her a coach who gets results while making her clients feel comfortable and cared for.

Lisa can be reached at 215.906.9393,, or by visiting

Read more great article at

Robin Coppinger
Bucks County Women’s Journal
The only educational newspaper serving the women of Bucks County

Posted in Bucks County, Bucks County Local Paper, Massage, Women's Magazine, Women's Newspaper | Tagged | Leave a comment

Celebrations with a Twist!

Beyond Weddings and Events is full-service wedding-, event-, and travel- planning company. I design “Celebrations With a Twist” so that your event will stand out from the rest. My goal is to inspire and guide anyone planning a wedding, other event, and more (including travel).

A wedding planner, event planner, and/or a travel planner is someone who you may need now or in the near future. Everyone’s life is stressful! So why add to it? Hire a professional to help plan your upcoming wedding, home party, or vacation. Here are the answers to frequently asked questions about Beyond Wedding and Events services:

What is a wedding planner?

2015-10-07_11-48-40A wedding planner is a person who takes charge and plans the details of a wedding from start to finish. The bride and groom are still involved, but most of the work is entrusted to the professional.

To be “certified” as a wedding planner, I was trained at an industry-recognized educational institution. I have the follow designations for event planning:

o LWPI Certified Wedding and Event Planning by The Wedding Planning Institute
o Certified Cake Decorator by Wilton

Isn’t a wedding planner expensive?

A good wedding planner has different packages based on budgets and planning needs. I offer several planning packages starting at $750. I am unique in that I offer an Online DYI Planning Package for $350.

How can I make any event I host unique—especially at the holidays?

Entertaining at home is an event, too. Friends and families receive multiple party invitations, especially around the holidays, so make yours the one that they’re interested in attending by making it a reflection of you.

The same elements used in creating a signature wedding apply when entertaining in your home. Create a menu that showcases the foods that you do well. My signature food is dessert. I also enjoy making comfort foods. As a result, I do my best entertaining during the fall and winter seasons.

Here are some tips in helping to design your signature menu:

• Consider who your event is for—friends or family? Do any of your guests have dietary restrictions? Do they drink? Are they foodies? Knowing your guests is important.
• Determine the purpose of the event. Is it a casual get-together or a formal dinner? Will it be sit-down or buffet? The type of event determines what would be served.
• Define why the event is happening. Is it a celebration, holiday party, or a time of mourning? This will impact the atmosphere you create.
• Enjoy the event yourself! This is the most important tip when entertaining at home. The hostess plays a key role in the success of the event. Take time to plan your outfit, makeup, and hairstyle in advance. Carve out enough time to get ready. Then smile and have fun.

Don’t take on so much work that you find yourself stuck in the kitchen or are already stressing about the cleanup afterwards.

If you love to entertain but find it overwhelming, consider hiring an event planner.

However, if you like to do it yourself, here are some tips to help lighten the party-planning task list:

  • Save time by supplementing your main dish (protein) with prepared sides from a supermarket such as a Wegmans.
  • Use plastic silverware and dinnerware. Costco has china-like dinnerware that looks upscale yet is disposable.
  • For pre- and post-party cleanup, hire a house-cleaning service. You’ve Got Maids offers a Party Planning 101 service.

What are some of the benefits of hiring a wedding planner?

A wedding planner helps with budgeting, vendor selection, contract interpretation, time management, dress selection, menu design, engagement parties, bridal showers, and emergency management.

What is a signature wedding?

A signature wedding is based on a couple’s personality and is expressed through the smallest details of the day. It is what makes one event stand out from another. For example, if your heritage is important to you, we will blend those elements into the food, music, entertainment, etc.

What is a travel planner?

A travel planner helps plan family vacations, couple’s getaways, honeymoons, and more. As a Travel Consultant with GalaxSEA Cruises and Tours, I will handle all of the planning and all of the research about your destination. I have the following travel-planning certifications:

  • Disney Destinations at the College of Disney Knowledge
  • Walt Disney World Dream Maker at the College of Disney Knowledge

Online travel companies offer great deals, but they will not provide you with any planning services. I have access to all of the popular destinations, including Disney, Sandals, Beaches, Cruise Lines, and others. I can also provide information on how your vacation can help raise money for your fund-raiser or favorite charity.

Give me a call about planning your next event or trip. I’d be happy to help!

Beyond Weddings PhotoAnastasia Blaszczyk
Certified Wedding and Event Planner
Travel Consulting


Let us blog about you!  Join the BCWJ and become a contributor!

Robin Coppinger
Bucks County Women’s Journal
The only educational newspaper serving the women of Bucks County

Posted in Bucks County, Bucks County Local Paper, Events, Women's Magazine, Women's Newspaper | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Considering or Experiencing a Divorce or Separation?

By John G. Millett, J.D.

The decision to divorce or experiencing a divorce or separation is one of the most emotional and trying times of a person’s life. It is not necessary to compound it with the added emotional stress and expense of the traditional legal process.


My divorce mediation practice offers an alternative approach to judges, opposing lawyers, or other third parties who will decide your fate and the future of your family. I am not an online do-it-yourself website, nor am I a high-priced law firm. I complete the entire divorce process from beginning to end at a very reasonable cost and within the least amount of time possible. And my first consultation is free.

I am a divorce survivor myself. After witnessing first-hand the emotional and wasteful process within the traditional legal system, ultimately, three grueling years later, we hired a mediator who finalized our divorce in a matter of hours. Mediation provided great relief in terms of eliminating the ongoing emotional stress and economic waste. Most importantly, it was in the best interest of our children. They no longer had to witness the strife and divisiveness created by the traditional adversarial legal process. Afterwards, I realized I wanted to dedicate my life to providing mediation services to other families.

What is mediation? Although I am a lawyer, as a mediator, I am permitted to facilitate agreements between both parties. In mediation, it is not necessary nor is it required to have two lawyers representing each party. This is accomplished all within the scope of the law and the rules of the courts. In arbitration, or in a court setting, with a judge, that third party decides the outcome of your case. In mediation, on the other hand, all the decisions are made by the parties themselves. This is extremely empowering. I always explain to my clients that attorneys, courts, and judges are for parties who don’t agree. In mediation, the parties reach agreements and subsequently file the agreement with the court. Not the other way around.

What if we can’t agree on anything? In mediation, when parties “hit a wall” and find it difficult or near impossible to agree, we call it an “impasse”. This can happen before, during, or after the mediation process. But there is always an answer, a solution, and an outcome. Assisted by both parties, I create thorough, balanced, and fair alternatives and options for each issue covered. The parties must keep in mind that, outside of mediation, the court will ultimately make the decision for you. Remember: there is always one issue everyone agrees on: the love we feel for our children. Therefore, it’s inaccurate to say “We can’t agree on anything.” The best interests of the children are the centerpiece and catalyst for reaching solutions and results. Even when couples do not have children, the respect toward one’s family is paramount.

What is the process and how long does mediation take? I tell my clients we will begin with the basics and keep the process simple. It is extremely important to present and discuss all facts and to build trust between the parties and myself. This point is strongly emphasized.

A divorce has three basic components: finances (assets and liabilities), support (child and spousal), and custody/visitation. A typical mediation requires approximately three or four 2-hour sessions. I must also complete other tasks outside the sessions, which takes another three to four hours. The entire process can be completed within a few weeks, assuming the clients’ schedules permit.

When all issues are resolved, the agreement is formalized in a document that will be filed at the courthouse. The court will then issue a final divorce decree, and the process will be completed. Depending on the county, the time between the filing and final court order may vary, but usually it is no more than 60-90 days.

Why mediation? Most people don’t know that, when Abraham Lincoln was practicing law, lawyers were referred to as “peacemakers”. He and other lawyers like him represented both parties in front of the court, and the goal was to reach an agreement in the most amicable and cost-efficient way possible. As time went on, legal disputes slowly began to involve two lawyers representing either party. And, rather than starting with what the parties agree upon, today’s courts spend a great deal of time and expense fighting over what the parties’ disagreements are—a very illogical process. Mediation examines what is possible rather than what is not possible, with clear benefits for all involved.

John Millett-hi-resJohn Millett is a lawyer and small business owner. He earned his J.D. at Loyola University School of Law. John also received a B.A. With Honors from Rutgers University and an A.A. from Brookdale Community College. John has been a court- appointed R 1:40 mediator for 10 years and has mediated dozens of divorce cases as well as business disputes, both within the courts and through his private practice. He is a member of the Pennsylvania Council of Mediators and the New Jersey Association of Professional Mediators and has experience as a mediator in government and for pro bono citizens’ groups.

Become a distributor to the Bucks County Women’s Journal – the only educational newspaper serving the women of Bucks County!

Robin Coppinger
Bucks County Women’s Journal
The only educational newspaper serving the women of Bucks County

Posted in Bucks County, Bucks County Local Paper, Divorce Mediation, Uncategorized, Women's Magazine, Women's Newspaper | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Do you love to dance?

Fred Astaire Dance Studio is a fun and happy place to learn how to dance! We are proud of our great dance heritage, which began in 1947 when the Master of dance himself, Mr. Fred Astaire, co-founded our company. The Fred Astaire Teaching Method includes private instruction, group lessons, and social parties. New studio owners and professional dance instructors Igori Bogatiriov, Yuliya Jung, and Elena Rabinovici are very excited to share the gift of dancing with everyone in the Bucks County area.

Located right in the heart of Doylestown, our doors are open for everyone ready to experience something new, whether it’s getting ready for a wedding or learning to dance for fun. Most importantly, there is no partner necessary. Dancing is about more than the music and steps. Aside from being just plain fun, it’s a perfect combination of physical activity, social interaction, and mental stimulation. Dancing also:

• Relieves stress
• Expresses the joy of living
• Boosts self-confidence
• Offers a total body workout
• Improves memory
• Rekindles romance
• Develops balance, control, rhythm, and coordination
• Strengthens cardiovascular system and builds muscle tone
• Increases energy, stamina, flexibility, posture, and strength

Don’t put it off for another moment—walk into our studio and begin your dancing journey!


Robin Coppinger
Bucks County Women’s Journal
The only educational newspaper serving the women of Bucks County

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Imagine a Better You…With a Sleek Contour

Start of the new year with a new you!

Tired of holding your breath to zip up your pants? Tired of the “muffin top” on your hips? Imagine a better you by treating yourself to CoolSculpting® with Dr. Benjamin Lam at Bucks County Plastic Surgery Center in Newtown.

2015-10-28_16-37-48CoolSculpting is a revolutionary body-contouring treatment that precisely targets the stubborn fatty areas you want to lose. Before CoolSculpting, there wasn’t a nonsurgical way to sculpt the body and reduce fatty areas. The truth is: we all have stubborn fat. And, as we age, gravity and genetics seem to make matters worse. Proper diet and exercise alone are not enough to keep these stubborn areas at bay. CoolSculpting is a solution for getting back the body you want, without surgery or downtime.

CoolSculpting is FDA approved, so you can be confident of safety and effectiveness. The procedure involves isolating and freezing stubborn fat, which is then naturally eliminated from your body. In the weeks and months following treatment, the treated areas are reduced. No surgery, no downtime, no medications!

Dr. Lam and his treatment specialist Stephanie DiSante will develop a customized “treatment to transformation” plan to address your concerns. This comprehensive approach may involve multiple one-hour treatments and is designed to optimize your specific results.

If you answer YES to any of these questions, CoolSculpting is for you!

  • Have pudgy areas resistant to diet and exercise? Say good-bye!
  • Are you too busy for recovery and downtime? None with CoolSculpting!
  • Do you prefer the option and privacy to drive yourself to and from a treatment? 100% confidential and independent!
  • Do you want to avoid hospitals, needles, anesthesia, and medicines? None with CoolSculpting!
  • Can you be patient for several weeks (4-12) while frozen fat cells are being eliminated?

CoolSculpting is for you!

2015-10-28_16-38-58Want your “treat to transformation” plan? Call 215-702-8600 to schedule a complimentary consultation with Dr. Benjamin Lam and Stephanie today! We look forward to making “imagine a better you” happen!

104 Pheasant Run • Building A • Suite 123
Newtown, Pennsylvania
CALL 1-855-702-8600

Visit the Bucks County Women’s Journal for more great articles.

Want to become a contributor?  Contact us!

Robin Coppinger
Bucks County Women’s Journal
The only educational newspaper serving the women of Bucks County

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment