Saturday, March 25, 2023

Teaneck—If Tinker Bell had grown up, married Peter Pan, moved to a New Jersey suburb, and created her own Neverland of a home, she might have been very similar to Tova Gold. A photograph of Gold on the cover of her enchanting, recently published Finding Your Muchness Funbook re-enforces that idea.

Wearing a green tulle dream dress belted in gold and Himalaya-high heels, her warm smile invites you to revel in this effervescent soft cover book overflowing with imaginative, sometimes zany, advice on recreating your self in the image that you want/need. Not encouraging imitation, Gold’s book—a wild and friendly foray into YOU —is subtitled Inspiration, Journal Exercises & Meaningful DIYs to help you find your light, joy, spark and confidence.

The title, inspired by English writer, mathematician, logician, and photographer Lewis Carroll, comes from a reprimand to the heroine in his book Alice in Wonderland courtesy of the Mad Hatter. “You used to be much more...‘muchier.’ You’ve lost your muchness,” he chides Alice. The word has come to mean quality or state of being great in quantity, extent, or degree. Gold has expanded the definition. To her, as an adjective, “Muchness is the energy, the life, the spark of positivity that fuels our days, our imaginations, our confidence.” In Gold-speak, the word is also a noun, meaning “really sparkly, inspiring and happy-making stuff.”

Reading the book is like finding a friend who really, really understands you and really, really loves you. Encouragement and honesty fill each page. Gold’s personal anecdotes intertwine with her sequin-studded philosophy on life. Her ideas, augmented by contributions from professional coaches, teachers, therapists and other muchness mentors range from recipes for home-made facials to creative writing exercises, DIY craftables, and more, encouraging readers to discover their inner whoever.

But this joyful, empowering, quirky book came out of a response to the ache that life occasionally causes via a sucker punch. “There comes a time when the pain of staying the same exceeds the pain to change. It is then that you begin to change,” Gold writes. Although there were no lost boys in Gold’s Neverland there were lost girls. Despair engulfed her when her, “identical twin girls, forever nicknamed Sunshine and Daisy, were stillborn.” Happening upon the Lewis Carroll line about “muchness” inspired her to begin to reclaim that quality for herself. She shared her decision to “invite my Muchness—sequins, light, fun and creativity—into my life every day for 30 days and document it on Facebook.” The enthusiastic response to her Facebook page helped her understand that others were benefiting from her experience. She decided to help encourage more women to reclaim missing pieces, marshmallows, sequins or whatever it takes. Although some of the advice could help men, this is a very girl-oriented book.

In case you think a workbook, even if relabeled as a “fun book,” is just not for you, be advised that Gold shares your disdain. Self-described as “not a workbook person,” she had the Muchness workbook idea rocking around in her mind for years but could not bring herself to make it happen. Why? “Because BLECH! Why on Earth would I want to sit down and create something I thought you would want if I didn’t even want it myself?”

But she decided that this portable best buddy was a good method to get her message into the world.

Grab it and glow! But do not plan on passing this full-color, glossy book on to friends or relatives. They will have to buy their own copies (at findingmymuchness.com, $25). Your personal guide to reclaiming sparkle and glow—please read it with scissors, glue, sense of humor and crayons nearby—is designed to be cut up, doodled in, and even ripped apart.

On the website you will also discover a 30-day deck of credit card-size Muchness Moments Cards ($18), which come in a small black velvet ribbon-drawstring bag (the kind that might look good filled with a small piece of exquisite jewelry or handmade chocolates). The colorful multi-font cards, printed with gladness-enhancing and challenging quotes cover a gamut of feelings including fortunate, proud, worthy, peaceful, joyful, et. al. The messages will appeal to all who still dare to dream and to those who are just beginning to see the world’s possibilities. On the other side of each card are a few lines—to be filled in by the reader—about a time when the reader experienced an emotion evoked by the quote. A claret-colored card with words by C.S. Lewis, “You are never too old to set a new goal or to dream a new dream,” turns over to display the message, “Today I felt inspired when…”

Helen Weiss Pincus is a freelance writer and exercise instructor.

By Helen Weiss Pincus

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