#289 - 295. My Winter Capsule: Week Two

I look sad because I am freezing. Also, the only pic in this outfit where my hair looked dece.

I look sad because I am freezing. Also, the only pic in this outfit where my hair looked dece.

Two weeks in and I am kind of over this capsule thing for 5 specific reasons:

1) The Effing Weather!

I selected my clothes during the most gorgeous fall we've ever experienced in Minnesota. 50 and 60 degree days! Amazing! 

However, for the last 10 days, it's January-like temps & lots of snow (not Buffalo-style, but still). Suddenly, I don't want to wear my grey cowboy boots or vegan leather jacket. In fact, about 25 percent of my capsule is more or less unwearable. 

I was expecting it to get cold, but not this fast! Winter doesn't even technically start for a month.

Dammit!

2) I Selected Clothing Hastily (also, I was being cheap).

You know when Billy Crystal launches into that speech at the end of When Harry Met Sally and it ends with something like, "When you finally realize you want to spend the rest of your life with someone, you want the rest of your life to begin as soon as possible"? Well that's how I felt about this capsule thing. I just wanted to start already!

I still really like most of the things I picked, but in retrospect, I should've thought ahead about this snap in the weather and planned accordingly. I have too many long sleeved shirts (one that aren't good for layering) and not enough things to wear over them. That's partially because I didn't want to spend more money on sweaters and the like, which seemed like a thrifty idea at the time. 

I could definitely use a plain, oversized cardigan or two. And maybe some fleece-lined leggings. 

3) I already ruined my favorite thing.

Yep. Part of this whole deal was to buy nice things that I would take care of. So I did. For example, a $60 charcoal sweatshirt (pictured above). 

LOVE IT. 

Just didn't quite realize it was 25 percent wool and I effing shrunk it in the wash! It might be salvageable, but it's just not the same. IDIOT!

4) Shopping Follows Me Everywhere!

I spent the weeks prior to posting my wardrobe looking up links to clothes, etc. Which means every time I look at any site with ads, it's showing me pictures of clothing I like. On sale. I don't need to shop, shopping finds me. I am holding strong...

for the most part...

5) Shhh... I Kinda Cheated.

I absolutely can't stand one of my pairs of jeans. They're supposed to be skinny jeans, but I just got them hemmed and they kinda flair at the bottom, making them hard to tuck into boots. I never want to wear them. What kills me is that they're the expensive Citizens of Humanity ones.

Ugh. 

I swapped them out for these, which were in the tub in the basement. They're really old and faded, but they fit inside my boots. They're better in the summer because they're light weight, but I can handle them 'til January 9.

Ok, and I also bought a pair of stylish winter boots because I've been slipping everywhere! They are so cute and I bought them with a Nordstrom gift card and I will take a pic when they arrive.

So yeah, I cheated. Having said all that...

I am still liking only having a few options.

It's still making getting ready a breeze. And has dramatically cut down on my decision fatigue (that is a thing & you can read about it here). I really like a few of the items I have a TON. I've worn this shirt eight times (estimate). I just wish I had a GD cardigan to go over it. 

At any rate, this is what I've been wearin':

After the leaves fall off the trees, it sure gets ugly around here!

After the leaves fall off the trees, it sure gets ugly around here!

I've worn this twice, once to a coffee meeting and once some other time that also probably involved drinking coffee.

Black puffer jacket  *  Charcoal sweatshirt  *  Graphic tee  *  High riser mom jeans

Short black boots  *  Long necklace  

Still loving this cardigan, mostly because it's one of the only warm things in my closet. 

Still loving this cardigan, mostly because it's one of the only warm things in my closet. 

I snagged this sweater three times already, which bugs me. I still like it though. 

Graphic cardigan  *  Black tee  *  Black jeggings  *  Short black boots  *   Long necklace

Plaid shirt + Frye boots = One of my many lady lumberjack looks.

Plaid shirt + Frye boots = One of my many lady lumberjack looks.

I'm standing to the side because these boots are significantly cuter from the side. Not loving them anymore. I think I'm skewing more ankle boot lately. Maybe I will sell them on eBay, though they are great on a motorcycle, which is important because my husband has one... or five. Whatever.

Flannel shirt  *  Newbie skinny jeans  *  Tall motorcycle boots 

Rocking the Minnetonka Moccasin mukluk look.

Rocking the Minnetonka Moccasin mukluk look.

Saturday morning running errands and heading to a coffee shop. I'd the glasses are for my far-sightedness, but I don't even know what that means.

I only "need" glasses when I don't feel like putting on makeup.

P.S. Say hi to my dog, Patsy!

Scarf  *  Plaid shirt  *  Skinny jeans  *  Mukluk boots  *  Completely unnecessary glasses 

Fact: people only spill on you when you're wearing white. 

Fact: people only spill on you when you're wearing white. 

Wore this to THE Garth Brooks concert. The best part was when the drunk dudes behind us spilled a full beer down my back. Hoping it doesn't stain this beautiful white top... currently in the wash. 

Scarf  *  White button down  *  High riser mom jeans  * Tall brown boots

* * *

Two weeks down, a lot more to go. Lots of mixed feelings-- I am currently regretting this a little, but maybe this is just a mourning period. I can handle it; it's just clothes. 

ICYMI: Here's what I wore last week, and here's a link to all the stuff currently in my sparse closet.  

Everyday Eleanor: Jaimal Yogis of The Fear Project

Jaimal, the beach & his super cute toddler. 

Jaimal, the beach & his super cute toddler. 

You're not going to believe this, but I am not the first person to do a fear-based project.

Apparently, there are lots of us out there.

Journalist, surfer and shy guy Jaimal Yogis might be one of the most well-known. You may have heard of his first book, Saltwater Buddha (soon to be a feature film!). A surfing meets Zen book sounds great and all, but what drew me in is his second book, The Fear Project, exploring the science behind our most primal emotion & how to overcome it. We talked swimming with sharks, social anxiety & why as adults we need to "drop ourselves off at daycare."

* * *

Like me, you’re a fear enthusiast. Hmmm… maybe enthusiast isn’t the right word, but you know what I mean. How’d you get here?

I’d been dumped by my girlfriend of five years. When we broke up, it triggered not only my insecurities and fears, but this intense doubt of everything I’d ever known… I thought we were going to get married and I was thrown from my foundation. I couldn’t sleep. I needed to start over.

You hear about all this brain science and I started to wonder if there was anything out there that could help me. I didn’t want to trust any of the assumptions that I made in the past because my boat had basically sunk. So that’s where the Fear Project began.

Because I am a writer, I think about anything that I am doing and wonder if I can turn it into a book. Some people can do their job separately from their lives. But I am one of those people who works on things that are happening in my life.

What was the first thing you intentionally did because it was scary? What did you learn?

I’m a surfer and decided I was going to really face my physical fears in the water. I thought I would get in really good shape and then swim to Alcatraz.

I’d been on a field trip there as a kid and they talked about the prisoners getting eaten by sharks if they escaped. That turned out to not be true, but it scarred me. I had dreams when I was little about falling off of Alcatraz and getting eaten. So I decided I was going to escape from Alcatraz. Jump off the island and swim back.

Jaimal surfing and looking like a total badass. 

Jaimal surfing and looking like a total badass. 

I did the swim with this famous open water swimmer named Jamie Patrick. It turned out that we couldn’t just go out to the island and swim to shore. We had to swim out and back, which turns out to be four miles or something way longer than I'd ever swam in the open ocean.

Long story short, we miscalculated the tides and we ended up getting almost swept away. The Coast Guard was really upset with us, but it ended up being really fun. By the end of it, I discovered any little fear you can break through and associate with something good starts to ripple into other fears.

What insight have you captured by facing your fears? 

I started realizing fear doesn’t have to have a negative association. We’re so trained to say fear is bad because it makes us uncomfortable.

When you break it down, what is it? It’s actually a heightened sense of awareness.

It’s like your body tensing up, getting ready for action, and so when you're saying yes to it...it starts to change the fear instantly. That’s why people become fear junkies. It can actually become really fun, too. And as long as you're doing that in a way that doesn’t risk your life too much, it can be so empowering. Everything I’ve been afraid of can actually be dealt with this way, from the cocktail party with strangers to skydiving.

I talk a lot about how it’s the things that can’t kill you that often are the scariest. Do you agree?

I’ve found that the scariest things are around losing my good reputation. I think this is a primal fear and goes back to when we were tribal people. We depended on the tribe. If you were outcast, it was a death sentence. Getting approval from your peers and having a social network is so key.

In a lot of ways, it’s more scary to lose that respect than it is to die. I think that’s one of the reasons soldiers say things like I was more afraid to be called a coward than I was to die.

I've done some things that were maybe a little too death defying, but that’s scary in a different way. Social scariness keeps you up at night, which is the most annoying. The death fear is really intense in the moment and then it passes. It’s like, thank god I survived that. Now it’s over. But social anxiety can plague you.

What's helped you overcome that social fear?

I've surrounded myself with really cool people. Whatever I do that’s authentic to myself, they're all really supportive. It's inspired other people to go out on a limb and write a folk song and sing it at a café, or do something uncharacteristic that might be truer to their real selves.

Those leaps outside of my reputation comfort zone are always the scariest, but they’re the most gratifying if they're based in an authenticity that comes from the heart.

In a recent blog post, you talk about how adults need to drop themselves off at daycare. What do you mean by that? Why do you think it’s important?

I have a 2.5-year-old. He started preschool a year ago. At first, he'd would throw a tantrum when I left 100 percent of the time. It’s now about 50 percent. But he still throws a tantrum often. He suffers form all the same social anxiety his mom and I do. Shyness is genetic. I see him, every day, pushing his comfort zone because he has to and because we know it's good for him. He’s gradually becoming this flexible and socially relaxed creature. It’s a beautiful process to watch.

Jaimal and his awesome kid.

Jaimal and his awesome kid.

I realized recently that we as adults find patterns that we’re comfortable in and we don’t have to be in those tantrum throwing experiences that really expand our boundaries. I think part of that is that life is really difficult as an adult—you have taxes and your parents are getting older and a lot to think about. 

Doing one thing that makes you struggle a little bit, even if it's small. That’s where we grow.

I think when you do it consciously, that growth is exponential. That’s why I said you have to be your own parent and drop yourself off at preschool everyday.

* * *

For more info on Jaimal, check out his website, follow him on Twitter and Facebook. You can check out my other Everyday Eleanor interviews in the archives. You know you want to.

I want to hear your Everyday Eleanor story. Email me at heyeleanorproject@gmail.com.

How I Live On Purpose

Oh hey there.

This is a different kind of post & I hope you like it. 

Long story short, my twitter pal, fellow blogger & psychologist Dr. Danielle Dowling is launching her new book The Soul Sessions, a 5-week guide to crafting greater joy and making big things happen. You can check out a free sample here!

She was kind enough to ask me if I'd share a few ways I live my life on purpose.

It might seem like I'm just winging it over here (spoiler alert: sometimes I am), but in general, I do have a plan. It sure changes a lot, but hey, that's why god invented White-out. Or erasers. Or the delete button. Anyhow, here's some insight into how I keep this show on the road. 

* * *

How do you let go of the chase for perfection?

Once upon a time (okay, up until 18 months ago), I was paralyzed by the idea of putting anything out there that wasn't perfect. This is especially challenging as a writer because you can revise something one million times and it's never going to be perfect.

Last year, I enrolled in an entrepreneurial course called Studio/E. One of the biggest takeaways for me was the idea of just starting. Have an idea? Don't hem and haw about every little thing. Just start. Take action. Done is better than perfect. 

This blog, Hey Eleanor, is the perfect example of just starting. I'd been thinking about doing it for nearly a year. I had great ideas, but what I didn't have was a website. As long as I didn't have a site, I didn't have jack squat. So on September 1, 2013, I decided to just start. I gave myself one month to build and publish my site. Whatever I had on October 1, 2014 was going live, perfect or not.

It wasn't perfect, but I did have something good enough to publish by my deadline. A year later and I am still working on making my site better. But in the meantime, I've been able to build a dedicated following and a name for myself as a writer. No one seems to notice all my site's imperfections (well, except for me).  

Do you have any rituals that help you return to your truest, most centered self? 

I've discovered the biggest thing that keeps me from feeling centered is my ever-growing list of tasks. You know, boring stuff, like errands.

So when I start feeling overwhelmed, I take a half or sometimes full day and tackle all the crap that's clouding my mind-- dropping off dry cleaning, getting a car wash (interior and exterior, preferably! This one is my favorite, btw.), bringing stuff to the post office, calling stupid Comcast. Often times, just making an appointment I've been putting off helps clear my mind (example: dental visit).

I've found once I've cleared away those tasks, my brain can breathe again. That's when I feel the best about myself and the least distracted. That's when I can tap into my truest, most centered self, if you will.

How do find the courage to jump into a new adventure?

First and foremost, I trust my gut.

Second, rarely do people just stumble upon greatness. In order to make great things happen, you can't sit back and wait for them to happen to you. You have to jump. That's incentive enough for me.

Most recently, I took a leap of faith and quit a pretty amazing job. My friend and mentor Dana Cowin once told me, "It can be very depressing to be unemployed, but I think it’s more depressing to be badly employed." It wasn't that I had a bad job, but it no longer fit me. I needed a change. 

I think Dana's idea translates to a lot of areas-- relationships, hobbies, work. It's worse to settle than to strive for greatness. Just that idea gives me courage. 

What are some things you’ve said ‘no’ to so you can focus on what's most important to you? What are you currently saying ‘no’ to?

When I quit my job, I was feeling creatively tapped, emotionally zapped and didn't have the time or energy to work on Hey Eleanor. 

Thus far, self-employment has been great (flexible schedule! Ability to focus on what I love to do! Working from home!), but scary. Though I do have some income rolling it, it's nowhere near what I was making full-time.

I promised myself I wouldn't just take on any old freelance writing gigs just because of money. If I said yes to everything, I'd find myself in the same position I was just a month ago: creatively tapped with no time to spend on my own projects. Except this time, I'd also have to deal with invoicing and juggling many projects with different entities instead of just collecting a paycheck. 

So as of right now, I haven't been actively seeking writing gigs. I've taken on two small projects that have rolled my way and fit with my brand, but have said no to many that weren't inline with my brand. It's been hard to say no to perfectly fine opportunities, but I know it's the right decision right now. I'm being selective.

(Talk to me in a few months and I might be eating these words.)

What do you always say "yes" to?

I always say yes to a new adventure, especially travel. My husband and I are thinking about kids in the next few years, so things that require a little more time and planning are high on my list of priorities. Precisely why we are going to Australia & New Zealand in January. That's a challenging trip to take once kids are in the picture. 

It's not always easy to say yes to adventures, even when they sound fun. I'd argue ESPECIALLY when they seem fun. I think a lot of us feel "having fun" isn't accepted culturally as a good use of time, especially if it means taking time off work.

That's part of the reason I started Hey Eleanor... I'm basically forced to say yes to adventure. I'm trying to turn it into my job. How cool is that?

* * * 

Thanks for inviting me to partake in your blog crawl, Danielle! This is the second one I've done (see Notes To My Younger Self) & I must say I prefer these to bar crawls. I can wear my pjs the whole time and I'm not hungover the next day. Brilliant! 

Let's Tell Your Hey Eleanor Story

When I started Hey Eleanor last year, I was focused on personal growth. It didn't take very long for me to realize this project was a lot bigger than me. 

As it turns out, most of us are afraid of a lot of things.

We are all in this together.

Wheeee!

Anyhow, last week I met with my buddy, Matt. He's kind of a big deal on the Internet. He pitched a very cool, Hey Eleanor-inspired video idea. And long story short, we're making a video series. 

But here's the thing: we need your help.

I don't want to give too much away, but these videos won't just be about me. It'll be about me and you. Intrigued? Here's what we're looking for:

  • People in the greater Twin Cities area (sorry, out-of-towners!) looking to conquer a fear or simply try something for the first time.
  • Willingness to be filmed for a day or two in the next three months.

Whether it's making croissants from scratch, driving a manual transmission, singing in public, driving on a frozen lake, holding a snake or trying a new sport (Aerial yoga? Pickle ball? Ice frisbee golf?), we want to document you as you tackle that new thing. If you're scared, I will hold your hand. Figuratively, or maybe literally if you need it. 

Pitch us your idea at heyeleanorproject@gmail.com by Friday, December 5. Please include a short description of what you want to do, why you want to do it & your phone number.

Feel free to get weird with your idea... or really mundane. We're listening.

#289. Confession: I Have Misophonia

Misophonia sounds ridiculous. But I promise you it's for realz. 

Misophonia sounds ridiculous. But I promise you it's for realz. 

I'm sitting in the corner of my favorite coffee shop, angling my entire body toward a wall. Earbuds in to eschew the sound of the two ladies talking wildly and gesticulating next to me.

My husband sits five tables down, alone.

I was sitting with him, but the guy at the next table is a "tall typer", a term I've given to all people who hammer away at their keyboards like an impassioned concert pianist. I can't be by that. I can't see it or listen to it. If I do, my brain explodes.  

Why? Because I have misophonia.

I didn't know it even was an actual thing until a few years ago. My friend read this article in the New York Times and forwarded it to me. Molly, I think this is you

Whoa, that IS ME!

I was relieved. Just knowing I had an actual thing was one of the best things I've ever heard.

I've spent my entire life thinking I am absolutely nuts.

Ever since I was a kid, I've been ashamed by an issue I have with sounds. It's without a doubt the thing I dislike about myself most. If a magical genie gave me three wishes, my first one would be to make the misophonia go away (I'd then wish for a billion dollars and for all pizza to be void of gluten and carbs, but still taste the exact same). From going to the movies to working in an office, this disorder makes daily life challenging.

It sucks.  

I'd tell you the quick-n-dirty facts about misophonia, but they actually did a pretty great job of that in this TODAY show clip:

But if you didn't feel like watching the video, the gist is that certain noises (in my case chewing, popping gum, humming, typing or clicking with a mouse) cause me panic and rage. And not in a "that's really annoying" way.

It's in a I want to punch you in the face way. 

Last week, I literally speed-walked away (while yoga breathing and plugging my ears and shielding my eyes) from the guy checking membership cards at Costco because he was chewing gum with his mouth open. A wee bit extreme, but it's how I deal.  

Like most people with misophonia, I first started experiencing symptoms around age eight.

It began with food.

I hated hearing a spoon hit a cereal bowl, the muffled sound of a hand digging around a bowl of popcorn or slurping soup. I know most people dislike those noises, but it would cause me to act out. Break things, scream, or avoid eating with my family all together. 

Don't you just hate forks?! No? That's just me?

Don't you just hate forks?! No? That's just me?

Twenty-some years later, I'm still dealing with these same noise problems. In a lot of ways, they've gotten worse. My list of triggers continues to grow, and over the past 10 years, it's moved from just sound to sound AND sight. For example, seeing someone across the room chewing gum causes me to panic, even if I can't hear them.

I know, it's weird. 

However, 20+ years of this ridiculousness means my coping mechanisms are dialed in.

For example:

  • I almost always have headphones with me, perfect for muffling noises at a coffee shop or smacking gum on an airplane. (BTW, if you have misophonia, airports are the absolute worst. Everyone chews gum at the airport) 
  • Earplugs. I almost always have earplugs. 
  • My radio is always on, which helps muffle annoying noises.
  • I downloaded the White Noise app which I play to drown out distracting sounds.
  • I purposely don't spend time with people who constantly chew gum. Yes, really. I avoid spending time with people who constantly chew gum.
  • I practice deep breathing techniques to calm myself.
  • I've learned the art of subtly plugging my ears-- as seen in the photo below.  
I look like I'm relaxing, but I'm really just plugging my ear so I can't hear you breathe or chew or type or live.

I look like I'm relaxing, but I'm really just plugging my ear so I can't hear you breathe or chew or type or live.

However, of all the things I do to manage my misophonia, the most helpful was meeting another person who has it. Long story short, the same friend who alerted me to the NYT's story introduced me to her friend who also has misophonia. She's normal and awesome and so funny and empathetic.

It's a total relief to have someone who gets it.

We live in different cities, but when one of us is having a particularly bad noise day, we will text each other. "The lady on the bus next to me literally won't stop humming AND she's chewing gum at the same time. Losing my mind!" Just the act of voicing my frustration is a HUGE relief. 

This is precisely why I'm writing this post. 

Though misophonia is a neurological disorder, there's not a lot known about the condition and there is no cure. Some doctors speculate it's a form of OCD, others believe it stems from some faulty wiring in the brain. What is known is that this disorder is real and it can be very debilitating. Hypnosis, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Tinnitus Retraining Therapy can help (full disclosure: haven't tried any of these), but I also read just talking about it can ease misophonia. 

So here is it. I have misophonia. Whew.

My greatest fear in regards to this used to be that people would make fun of me, purposely smack their gum, or write me off as hysterical or overly-sensitive.

Today, my fear is different: I don't want people to feel self-conscious eating/breathing/living around me. I'm already aware that some friends and family do feel self-conscious. I'm sorry guys! To be clear, I don't have a fight-or-flight reaction EVERY time some one is eating around me. If I'm in a place with a lot of stimuli (a busy restaurant or fun party), I don't notice a lot of the eating noises. 

I do, however, always notice the gum.

Always.

Even if you're not not smacking and think there is no way I noticed (I did notice and I am just not saying anything). I can even hear it over the phone. Not so fun fact: The first thing I do when I walk into a room is scan it for gum chewers. If I see anyone a-chewin', I do everything in my power to not talk or look at them until they spit out the gum.

I can't help it. It's so dumb. 

But I digress.

I am already feeling pretty good about sharing my story. Writing this was oddly therapeutic. I'm trying to get over that feeling of shame and embarrassment and I think this a step in the right direction. 

I'm happy to go more in depth on all of this, so if you have any questions about misophonia, please use the comments section! Other coping strategies or treatment ideas are obviously welcome. 

But if you could spit out your gum before commenting, I'd appreciate it. 

* * *

P.S. Two other things I was initially embarrassed about, but ended up being okay: doing stand-up comedy & putting air in my tires

Links that Sucked Me Down the Rabbit Hole

Allen & Alinea = not only a fascinating project, but one that ends with an important lesson. Worth watching the 12 minute video. 

An epic yearbook photo prank that required the comedic patience of Andy Kauffman.

We might not have an English equivalent of the Danish term hygge, but I guarantee if you live anywhere cold and snowy, you know it when you see it. This winter's goal: have a little more hygge in my life. 

This guy really puts it all out there in such a real, brave, vulnerable way that I have no doubt that he's getting laid right this second. 

A thoughtful look into a year without alcohol from a former "light social drinker." 

Are you listening to the Serial podcast? If you're not, you should. And if you are, you might like this look at the show's most captivating aspect

These twins: creepy or sweet? You be the judge

And last but not least, it looks like I'm not the only one who geeked out over Ken Burns' series, The Roosevelts.