Philanthropy Friday: Finding Your Muchness

Each Friday, the another jennifer blog shares stories of those who incorporate philanthropy into their everyday lives – personally and professionally – in a creative and unique way. If you have a story you’d like to share, please contact Jennifer. You can view past posts from the series here.

When I participated in Alexa’s Mother’s Day giveaway over at No Holding Back, I was secretly hoping to win the “Finding My Muchness” signature necklace. When I received the email that said I did, I was so happy to be able to pick three colors to wear around my neck. Colors to help me find my Muchess.

And, believe me, I’ve been looking for some extra Muchness as of late.


My Muchness signature necklace. I chose black (empowered), purple (gratitude) and red (passion) for my colors.

You might be wondering what Muchness is all about. Muchness is “that feeling of joy, optimism, positivity and happiness.” Tova Gold found that her Muchness went on an “extended leave” after she lost her identical twin girls when she was just six months pregnant. She started Finding My Muchness as part of her healing journey. (Read Tova’s story)

Finding My Muchness is a community website that sells inspirational accessories and informational products to help women re-find joy despite grief or trauma. Community members have often gone through life-changing struggles, including baby loss, illness or divorce.

Tova found her Muchness by doing simple things like wearing colorful clothes with lots of sparkles. Muchness can be as simple as dressing up for no reason and having an impromptu photo shoot in your garden.


Tova also created the Muchness Challenge “as a guide and inspiration to help people see their Muchness Moments.” According to Tova, it all happened very organically, but it was also about making the choice every day to CREATE a moment – even if it was as simple as wearing something cheerful and sparkly.

Oh, and she also has a book and speaks as well. When I asked Tova the impact her website community has had on herself and others, here is what she said:

“It is truly amazing what happens when you put yourself out there and simply hold a space for others to show up and say ‘I can do this- you watch and see.’ I’ve seen women emerge from shadows they’ve been walking in for YEARS simply by tuning into their Muchness. I’ve seen their confidence reemerge, I’ve seen them find their voice, reconnect to their potential. Women have gone from the dryness of grief to finding themselves and their light – some have started businesses around their reignited passions, others have gone on to lose a lot of weight, find new careers, propel their lives forward in ways they never imagined, yet somehow knew they could.

I’m not technically ‘an expert’ – I’m not a coach or a therapist – I just believe in the power that exists within all of us and I help women see that power and beauty within themselves. Through my book, my products, my speaking and writing I help them remember what that part of them looks like, what it feels like to reconnect with that inner beauty and uniqueness and then give them ‘permission’ to just OWN it.

We spend so much of our lives being afraid, asking permission, not wanting to stand out or being afraid of attracting negative judgements or opinions. But we are all our own harshest critics and when we allow ourselves to let go of that and love ourselves a bit, we can soar.”

Muchness-BookTova recognizes the many women who helped her through her grief, and still do. Her way of giving back and paying it forward is to inspire others to find their own strength.

Are you ready to find your Muchness?

My Q&A with everdayhero + Perspective from a Cabbie

photo via everydayhero blog

photo via everydayhero blog

A little over a month ago, I featured a company called everydayhero for Philanthropy Friday. Their digital platform allows you to track your own giving footprint. (You can read that article HERE.)

Through my conversations with everydayhero, I was asked if I would like to be featured on their blog. Of course I said yes! They sent me some very thoughtful questions on philanthropy and the nonprofit sector, which I answered from my unique perspective. I discovered the post was published last week during my big day with PSI in Washington DC. You can read the questions and my answers on the everydayhero blog.


Speaking of every heroes, I had a wonderful exchange with a cab driver on my way to Reagan National Airport on Friday morning that I wanted to share. The cab driver was pleasant and easy to talk to and immediately thanked me for being cordial with him. He noted that he sees different faces in his taxi every 10 minutes or so and he never knows what he’s going to get.

Early that morning he had a married couple in his cab rushing to get to the airport. At some point, they started to fight and things got pretty escalated. My friendly cab driver, whose name I never got, did the equivalent of the parental “don’t make me turn this car around” move. He pulled over and told the couple if they didn’t stop yelling and fighting he would take them straight back to the hotel they just left. He did not want to be witness to the negativity in his cab. The couple was angry at first, but they calmed down in order to make their flight. He told me the woman apologized profusely during the rest of their ride.

I’m not sure if my cab driver’s act was of everyday hero status, but he certainly made an impression on me. I wonder if he made that couple think about their actions. Who knows, maybe they even apologized to each other in the airport.

Turns out, my cabbie was only a part-time taxi driver. He was driving to help pay for his daughter’s $80,000 / year medical school bills. His full-time job? A professor of organic chemistry at George Washington University. He’s even writing a book so that his students don’t have to memorize everything he teaches them.

You never know who you will run into in life. My ride to the airport was pretty quick, but there was something about it that made me think that it was meant to be. I can only hope the couple before me felt the same way.


Don’t forget to hop on over to the everydayhero blog and read my Q&A

What do you think about my cabbie? Would you have pulled your taxi over?

Philanthropy Friday: My Day with PSI

Each Friday, the another jennifer blog shares stories of those who incorporate philanthropy into their everyday lives – personally and professionally – in a creative and unique way. If you have a story you’d like to share, please contact Jennifer. You can view past posts from the series here.

I’m sitting in my hotel room in Washington DC as I write this post, and my brain is fried. Fried in a good way because I got to geek out on development all day long with people who are passionate about global health.

I had a very full, wonderful day with PSI at their headquarters. As I explained last week, I won a trip to the nation’s capital in order to learn more about PSI’s work in global health.


This photo was taken at the end of my day spent with PSI. I’m not sure how I was still standing!

PSI’s mission is to make it “easier for people in the developing world to lead healthier lives and plan the families they desire by marketing affordable products and services.” They strive for pragmatism and have a strong focus on research and measurement.

Though PSI is well known in the development world, they are not an NGO that has a lot of name recognition with the general population. With a heavy focus on family planning, they have programs targeting malaria, child survival, HIV, reproductive health and non-communicable disease. They are probably most known for their work in contraception. Condoms, in particular. One of the presentations I experienced, called “Making Condoms Cool”, included a presentation of some of the condoms and marketing materials used to get high risk youth and adults to use contraception.

condoms psi

Condoms, coasters and literature about using contraception from PSI.

But PSI is much more than condoms and contraception. I also heard of how they are empowering youth to host radio shows that allow them to talk about sex while getting a public health message out in the discussion. They are working with health care workers to be more youth-friendly in order to help address their needs and not be judgmental of their actions. Social marketing campaigns are encouraging mothers in Pakistan to breast feed in the first hour to get the health benefits of colostrum.

Throughout the day, I received a pretty good overview of the state of global health and development in general. There was a lot of talk about the need for partnerships moving forward. To tackle the world’s problems and to get the funding to do so is going to require those in the private and public sector to work together.

I also had the opportunity to visit the USAID office for a presentation on PSI’s family planning programs in Madagascar (funded by USAID). There was talk about social franchising which works by “creating a network of health care providers that are contractually obligated to deliver specified services in accordance with franchise standards under a common brand.” This innovative approach helps address health problems more holistically and less vertically.

I had to go through two security checks and be escorted up to the USAID office.

I had to go through two security checks and be escorted up to the USAID office.

I had also had the opportunity to have a coffee with PSI’s President & CEO, Karl Hofmann. It was great to be able to just sit and have a discussion about development, PSI and life in general. My day ended with some potty talk around how PSI was addressing sanitation in Bihar, India.

Overall, I was impressed by PSI’s approach to global health using a marketing perspective. They are big on research, finding the right markets and measuring results. There was a lot of talk about keeping Sara healthy. Sara being the person they serve.

I learned a lot in my full day with PSI, and I hope this won’t be my last time visiting with them. As they told me from the beginning, their story is fascinating, but it’s a long and complicated one to tell.

What did you know about PSI before reading about them here? What do you want to know more about?

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