Style

My Beauty Uniform: Nora McInerny

My Beauty Uniform: Nora McInerny

Nora McInerny is one of the funniest people in radio today — despite the fact that her podcast, Terrible, Thanks For Asking, features stories about some of the hardest things in life: tragedy, illness, loss. She’s been tackling these topics as a writer and speaker since losing her own husband to brain cancer in 2014. (She also founded a support group called the Hot Young Widows Club.) Here, she shares her favorite drugstore face mask, her secret to surviving Minnesota winters, and how makeup helped her grieve…

My Beauty Uniform: Nora McInerny

Tell us a little bit about your beauty ethos, if you have one.
I appreciate a Real Housewives of Public Radio aesthetic, even if I can’t always live to that standard. So, I wear a lot of second-hand, thrift stuff and a don’t shop a lot — but I also have expensive hair extensions.

Those are extensions?!
Oh, yeah. This is a luxury for me, to have long hair. After my second baby, my hair just was like, okay, we’re done growing. You have shoulder-length hair and that’s the best it’ll ever be. So, I have hair extensions, and usually I’ll sort of loosely curl them — you know, an undone curl. I also love eyelash extensions. I just want as much of it to be automated as possible.

My Beauty Uniform: Nora McInerny

Totally. Do you have a morning routine?
Yes. As someone who mostly works at home, I have to have routines. Without them, I’m completely ineffective all day. I wake up at 5 a.m., and I sit in front of a Seasonal Affective Disorder lamp (which I start using in mid-August, because Minnesota gets so dark and so cold). I do that for 10 minutes and write in my journal. Then I go to the gym from 6 a.m. to 7 a.m. I work out every morning, because otherwise I would die of anxiety. Then I get home, and once the kids are out the door, I wash my face. And I always do my hair, for some reason. I also put on sunscreen every day, even if I don’t leave the house. Who knows where the day might take me?! I always put on real clothes, too. I have to. It sounds like a weird thing to say: Here’s a trick, get dressed!

Yes! There’s something about putting on a bra, too.
Right! That is another key to feeling like I am a part of the world, for sure. When I do leave my house — which is a few times a week — then I do a full-on face of makeup, with everything. I start with the Clinique Foundation + Concealer in one, which is amazing. And I’ll do a light contour (which I learned from YouTube, via my 12-year-old, ’cause kids know everything now). Then a blush and a lipstick. Always a lipstick.

My Beauty Uniform: Nora McInerny

I noticed that on your Instagram. You always seem to have a bright lip. Would you say that’s your signature thing?
Yeah. All my features are big — big nose, a big mouth, etc. — and I used to hate it. You know, when you’re young you just hate everything about yourself for literally no reason. I didn’t want to call attention to my mouth. And the minute I realized, ‘Oh, no, I like this,’ I started wearing bright lipstick. I was probably about 28, honestly, which is so sad. I could have been doing this forever! I’m a big fan of NYX’s Suede Matte lipsticks. They’re super bright and like six dollars (and they’re always at CVS or Target). I love the Maybelline Matte Ink Liquid Lipsticks, too. They stay forever but aren’t not too drying. They’re matte but not the kind of matte where you feel like your lips are about to fall off.

People always seem so scared to try it. Other women often ask, ‘How do I wear a bright red lipstick?’ Like, you literally put it on your face. You are the only person who is worried that you look different. I was always afraid it would be too much, but truly, you are the only person who’s thinking about your appearance that deeply. No one is thinking, ‘How dare she?’ Nobody cares.

So true. Just feel the fear and do it anyway, right?
Right! And also, if you wind up feeling uncomfortable, you can just wipe it off. You’re not signing a lifetime contract to always wear red lipstick.

My Beauty Uniform: Nora McInerny

You seem to have a real love of makeup. How did you learn about it, growing up?
I had to learn everything from Seventeen magazine — or those little instructions on the back of the eyeshadow palettes, that were printed in like point 4 font. Kids do not understand how good they have it now, with YouTube.

I know you travel for work sometimes, too. Do you have any airplane skincare tricks?
I pack a giant water bottle that I fill at the airport. I drink a liter before I get on the plane, and then I drink another liter, at least, during the flight. I pee constantly — which I’m fine with. When I get on the plane, I put on the Pacifica Wake Up Beautiful mask. It’s an overnight mask, so it doesn’t sit on top of your skin. It soaks in and just looks like you’re wearing a moisturizer. It’s truly my favorite product, and it’s like five bucks.

My Beauty Uniform: Nora McInerny

You’ve obviously been through some incredibly difficult periods in your life — specifically, dealing with the terminal illness and death of your first husband, Aaron, four years ago. Did that change your relationship to your appearance? To physical beauty in general?
Aaron always looked good. Even when he could not use his arm and his right leg, he wore pants, he wore button-downs with a cardigan. He was always so cool — like, he would never fly in sweatpants, for example. He liked my red lipstick, so I put on lipstick and dressed cute in the hospital when he had his first brain surgery. We always tried to put in an effort. I remember he got a little certificate from the radiation department, for being ‘Best Dressed.’

Why was making that effort important to you?
It helped me feel like I was in control, and like my life wasn’t falling apart. As long as people could see me looking like how I wanted to feel — or just looking like a person, rather than a sad story — that was a huge part of how I got through it. A HUGE part.

My Beauty Uniform: Nora McInerny

Do you think that routine helped you get through that first stage of grief?
Yeah. After Aaron died, I put on mascara and lipstick every single day. That way, I could look in the mirror and see, ‘Oh, okay. There she is.’ If I could recognize myself, then my life felt recognizable. Part of it also made me feel very close to him, to maintain that routine.

You wrote your first memoir, It’s Okay to Laugh: Crying Is Cool Too, right after Aaron died, and your next one, No Happy Endings, is coming out in just a few months. But a lot has changed for you in the interim. You’ve remarried, had another baby, and you’re a stepmom to two adolescents, too. Oh, and the host of a hit podcast! Where does this new book pick up?
The new book, No Happy Endings, starts around the first anniversary of Aaron’s death. That’s also the time that I met Matthew, my husband. When that happened, I got the sense that everyone around me was so relieved. It wasn’t malicious or anything; they thought I’d found a happy ending and didn’t have to grieve any more. But of course, it’s so much more complicated than that. Our family only exists because two other families blew up. Before this happened to me, I’d always assumed you could either be happy or unhappy, and never both at once. That’s what the memoir is really about: the blending of these two broken families.

My Beauty Uniform: Nora McInerny

So, you’re writing this really intense book. You also host the podcast Terrible, Thanks For Asking, which isn’t exactly ‘light’ either. I imagine you must sometimes feel pretty drained by the end of the day. Do you have any rituals to help you recalibrate and unwind?
I do spend a lot of time on my skincare at night. I always take off my makeup using micellar water — the Pacifica one — and I love it. Why did that not exist when I was a teenager? I feel like that would have really helped.

It did, it was just in France.
Goddamn it! Like all things!

And then I like Cetaphil cleanser, or — I don’t know how to say the word — CeraVe? CeraVe? One of their gentle cleansers. And then I use the Pixi Glow Tonic, and I love the mega moisturizer Egyptian Magic. It feels like it would be too greasy, but it’s not. I put that on, and by the time I’ve read my book and written in my journal, it’s gone. I also use Carmex every night before bed. It’s the only lip balm I use. Carmex or nothing, for me.

My Beauty Uniform: Nora McInerny

Any products you’re still on the hunt for?
The reason that I love having eyelash extensions is that, because of my job, I cry a lot. It’s a job hazard. But with extensions, you never end up with that grey silt underneath your eyes the way that every mascara I have does. So if you have any recommendations for a mascara that doesn’t do that, let me know.

My Beauty Uniform: Nora McInerny

You’ve done a lot, in your work, to open up the conversation around things like death, trauma and grief — and yet most of us still struggle with actually having those conversations, and being there for loved ones during hard times. Any suggestions on where to start?
Honestly, I think the first thing is just humble yourself. Maybe the person didn’t thank you for the bouquet you’ve sent, or they haven’t returned any of your text messages. Everything that feels like it’s about you, is truly not.

But the most important thing is to have a long game. Four months after your friend’s husband dies, then you should be doing something. Six months, eight months, two years. Whenever people say, ‘I don’t know what to do,’ I say pick the thing that you can do, reliably. Is it that every third Thursday the two of you go out? And it’s on the calendar and it’s always a thing? Or is it that every time you go to Costco you get extra milk, eggs or butter? Whatever it is, you can pick something, offer it up, and then do it, reliably.

And what if you are the grief-stricken?
If you’re the one grieving, the worst thing is that it is your job to lead everybody. It’s so unfair. You don’t need another job. But the tone of your grief is set by you, and everybody is looking to you to tell them how to do a good job. It’s also fair to say, ‘I don’t know what I need, and I don’t know how I feel.’

My Beauty Uniform: Nora McInerny

One of the things that I love about your writing and your work is that, though it never seems preachy, it does feel mission-driven. It was like you got lit on fire after losing your husband. What do you see as your driving force right now?
For the past four years, my mission has been just to do my best to be alive. I could have (and probably should have) gone back to my old day job. But I just couldn’t. I was lit on fire. With the podcast and books, I want to make things that somebody can point to and say, ‘It felt like that.’ It’s not just about death, either. Any time something truly transformative happens in your life, it tends to set you apart from the rest of your world. So, I want to make it easier for people to have those conversations that seem so hard.

Honestly, I’m 35, which is how old Aaron was when he died. In two months, I’ll be older than him, for the first time. I know on a daily basis that I am so lucky to be alive, and to have what I have. And a part of me will always feel guilty for it, honestly. This is me just trying to earn it.

Thank you so much, Nora!

P.S. More women share their beauty uniforms, including a wise reverend and a funny dog owner.

(Photo of Nora speaking by Chelsie Lopez. Photo of Nora with baby Q crying on her shoulders by Rebecca Slater. Family photo and photo of Nora in sunglasses courtesy of Nora McInerny. All other photos by BLK WLF.)

  1. Aaaand I’m teary. What a wonderful story and really healthy relationship with makeup too. Love it!

  2. Nora is my favorite Nora who isn’t me. I’m so glad to see so many commenters discovering her magic via this feature. Read the books and listen to TTFA (but make sure you have kleenex with you and be prepared to be the weirdo crying on the bus on your way to work). Also if you ever get to see her do the podcast live it’s SO GOOD.

  3. kelsea says...

    Just something to consider – instead of saying she is “one of the funniest women,” don’t qualify it and just say she is one of the funniest people in radio. :)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      good call, kelsea! just changed, thank you xo

  4. Geraldine says...

    Thanks for this beautiful post that resonates whith my personal story. Another thing that resonates with my personal story is this mascara that “tubes” your lashes : https://www.amazon.fr/blinc-BLMF1000-BLINC-Mascara-Noir/dp/B002A9JONI You just “wipe it off” at the end of the day with warm water and your fingers. Without this motion, it doesn’t go. I have been using it for more than 5 years, and have cried with it under the rain with real success regarding the fact that any of it fell under my eyes.

  5. Michelle says...

    I think I love her.

    I really appreciate the idea of picking one thing to do reliably. As I get older, I’m realizing that so much of loving others well is just showing up with what we already have.

  6. What a treasure. I love Nora’s soulful podcast, and now I learn she is also a beautiful woman with extremely good teeth. Thanks, Nora, for validating my love of makeup and for making me sob hysterically on the elliptical machine more than a few times. xo

  7. Lauryn says...

    Ok, I have never heard of Nora before but THANK YOU for publishing this piece on her. Her story has touched and inspired me deeply. What an incredibly strong soul to have survived and thrived through what she has experienced. Truly an inspiration! So glad I found her through this article! There are so many incredible people on this planet!

  8. Scout says...

    Oh, THANK YOU for sharing someone with a normal budget for make up and face care stuff!
    Also, she sounds amazing and I’m going to need to look up her books :)

  9. Nade says...

    What nailpolish does Nora wear on the photo with the big eye? Adorable.
    Love her personality and style. It looks like people with high self aware are having the best styles

    • Nora says...

      It’s a gel polish, and I wish I knew the color!

  10. Beautiful, witty, and what I love most, practical. Step by step, day by day Nora bloomed from the ashes of grief. Great job, Mama!

  11. wolflick says...

    Glossier lash slick doesn’t budge when you cry. I spend about 70% of my weekly therapy sessions crying and it always looks fine afterwards!

  12. Juliana says...

    Oh my goodness! What a nice surprise! I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE Nora so much. She is so smart and funny and so full of life. Her Insta stories are my favorite, her podcast is AMAZING. She is constantly inspiring me, making me cry and laugh real deep belly laughs. She also has THE BEST VOICE. I just LOVE hearing her saying “I’m Nora McInerny. And this is terrible, thanks for asking.” You can actually hear her smile if that’s even a thing. But seriously… Nora, I love you. You’re the best.

  13. Anne says...

    You know when you were little and you saw your teacher in public somewhere and it was weird but cool? I feel this way right now. Unfortunately and fortunately, I’m a member of the HYWC. Interesting to see this world collide with that world and loved seeing Nora featured.

  14. I really enjoyed this but when Nora said she is “just trying to earn” her happiness then the tears started. Such a powerful sentiment in the face of life’s hardships. Thank you Nora and Cup of Jo…..I needed this reminder and didn’t even know it.

  15. Kyla says...

    I love love love her podcast and writing, thanks for featuring her. It’s so strange when you know someone’s voice so well and have never seen their face!

  16. Sarah says...

    Bought Nora’s book after reading this and already loving it! Couldn’t put it down- would definitely recommend :)

  17. carmen says...

    oh my god!! NORA!!!! i listen to TTFA as soon as each episode drops and i’ve never seen what she looks like. i haven’t even started the article but felt so compelled to say how excited i already am!

    • Nora says...

      That’s so funny to me that NOBODY KNOWS WHAT MY FACE LOOKS LIKE!

  18. Suzanne says...

    Hi! I loved reading this story so much–sounds like I have a new podcast to try out!

    …Also just wanted to advise that the link to Egyptian Magic cream appears to be a counterfeit product (I noticed via reading the comments), so just sending a suggestion that it might be safer to link to the official website instead :)

    • Franny Eremin says...

      Thanks for catching that, Suzanne! Just updated the link.

  19. Jessica says...

    CoJ, you guys have been *nailing* the combination of everyday beauty/decor/whatever tips with a genuine peek into a person’s soul. I stop by for lipstick tips, I leave crying with a new profound understanding of life. Well done.

  20. Candice says...

    This might be my favorite in this series!

    Also, can someone PLEASE explain to me how putting on sunscreen in the morning is still effective if you don’t leave the house for two hours afterward? I always thought the timer started ticking once you applied it! Oh, and how the hell do you keep it from getting in your eyes before the day is out?

    • Sarah says...

      I heard a dermatologist on a podcast once say that the two hour rule is for if you’re sweating, swimming, etc. She mentioned a study that showed that people with regular office jobs who weren’t outdoors much still had spf on their faces at the end of the day! (Which I took as full permission to NEVER reapply, hah! Prob not her intention.)

  21. Joy says...

    so inspiring. this one left a mark.

  22. Anastasia says...

    This has helped me so much! I’m 35 and my husband has stage 4 melanoma. Finding “peers” in this process has been nightmarish. It has also drastically changed my outlook on all sorts of things. I have felt like a stranger in my own life all year. I have coped by doing my hair every day so I could know and be sure that at the very least I would have a “good hair day”. I felt so silly telling people that this is how I’m dealing. Now I know at least one other person out there gets it. Thank u

    • Joy says...

      honestly, the first thing that comes to mind when I hear that is BRAVE. Not silly in the least.

      I’m inspired to follow your lead. Especially as I very much relate to the feeling of being a “stranger in my own life.” sigh.

      So sorry for your difficult season of grief. It sounds heartbreaking and nightmarish, indeed.

      Sending love and warmth.

    • Laurel says...

      Joy is right. BRAVE. Sending love ❤️

    • Susie says...

      KEEP DOING YOUR HAIR! My husband was diagnosed with very aggressive Leukemia in 2016 and stayed in the hospital for a straight 35 days. I vowed to wear “cute clothes” and do my hair every single morning before I headed up to see him. She is so right about the control part and people seeing you as more than your sad story. I had a good friend consistently dropped off new lipstick, her fave dry shampoo, a yummy lotion. It meant the world.

      Keep going. You will be on the other end some day, like I am now, and you will know that you can do it and are a more beautiful soul because of your story. God bless.

    • Anastasia says...

      Joy, Laurel, Susie,
      Thank you, thank you, thank you for the kind words.

    • Emily says...

      Oh Anastasia, how I wish I could take your pain away. Reading your words “I have felt like a stranger in my own life all year” rang so startingly true for me. I was 31 when my fiance passed away from stage 4 melanoma (about a year and a half ago) and felt very much the same way. Never ever feel silly for doing the things you need to do to simply get through each day. Self-love and self-care are SO important. As you navigate this journey that you never planned for or imagined, please know you are not alone. We are here for you. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you need to talk/vent/ask questions/anything else. Sending you love, light, and warmth.

  23. Carrie says...

    That picture of her and her baby crying is *perfection*

  24. Meredith says...

    Loved reading about Nora! I was hoping she’d expound a little on her tattoos? It looks like she has several, I’m curious to know the story behind them.

  25. Yay! Love seeing Nora here. I had the honor of designing Nora’s new book jacket. Her writing is incredible. My Mom was widowed at 24 when my Dad passed away from melanoma. She was seven months pregnant with me and my brother was 1.5. I don’t know how she made it through those early years. Wish she could have joined a Hot Young Widows Club.

  26. Kali DeBoer says...

    Beyond everything else, I’m very thankful CoJ is introducing more people to Nora. She’s everything everyone has already said while also being as real as one can. I adore her writing and was so excited to see her here! Just don’t take her from Minnesota, mkay?

  27. Jess M says...

    MY WORLDS ARE COLLIDING AND I LOVE IT!

    Hugs to everyone in the comments xx

  28. Annie says...

    I would love to know what eyeshadow she’s wearing! It reminds me of the bronze-y look Gillian Jacobs wears a lot in “Love” that I’ve been trying to replicate for awhile. Everything I find looks too orange. Nora’s look is perfect!!

  29. Kate says...

    “Before this happened to me, I’d always assumed you could either be happy or unhappy, and never both at once. ”

    This was so true for me when I was falling in love with my fiancé after my mom died, and just before that I truly felt that because I had lost my mother, I was just going to be a sad, broken person for the rest of my life. I’m definitely still grieving, and broken for sure, but I’m a person who is in love and receiving love at the same time.

    Thanks for sharing Nora with us, CoJ. I feel like I’ve found a great resource for processing grief.

  30. Mk says...

    I have been in the dark and did not know about Nora! So thank you so much for bringing her to my attention! Such a fresh real energy she exudes during even the hardest times which is so comforting. Thank you!

  31. Margit says...

    I was so happy to see her popping up here! She really is THE BEST. Love her podcast and insta. I have a friend whose husband died in his early forties this summer — two children, lots of life not lived, heartbreak as wide as the ocean. Nora has helped me a lot to understand what I can do for a grieving person. (Aaaand now I’m sobbing.) Thank you, Nora, for being able to make you own tragedy into something healing for others.

  32. Liz says...

    This was such a lovely article. I always love beauty routine articles but this one was more about the woman than the routine – the routine was more a foil in the story. I loved it!!!

  33. Elizabeth says...

    I must know the name of the eyeshadow Nora is wearing! It’s a beautiful color and so complimentary to her blue eyes.

  34. Elise says...

    Love that you included a breastfeeding photo! That’s the picture with a happy Baby Q. :-)

  35. Sarah says...

    This discussion about beauty products was such an amazing vehicle to learn her story, enter her world, and hear what drives this passionate woman. While getting skincare recommendations, I also learned how to better support grieving friends, reframed grief, and put myself in the shoes of a young widow and her concerns. I’m always amazed that your site takes simple segments/features to such a deep and transformative place. That is done in the content curating, interviewing, editing and the comment follow up. This site makes me think of the Josh Groban song-“You Raise Me Up.” It’s a kick in the ass, with the comforting encouragement of a warm hug and a bunch of cheerleaders and friends on your side. Well done!! Nora, it was fantastic to learn your story.

  36. Steph Gilman says...

    She’s my favorite. And I can just hear her sweet voice saying “I’m Nora McInerny. And this is terrible…thanks for asking.”

  37. Angelica says...

    My mother was diagnosed with brain cancer 8 months ago and she struggled a lot..She fell in a comma, had surgery and radiation, spend months in the hospital and finally recovered enough to come home…Last week we lost her because an aneurysm…Life just unfolds itself…It feels that all we can do sometimes is watch and soak every moment of it, even the last moments..and even the worst moments…Sometimes you feel like a chapter of your life has ended and you have to put down the book now even though you are not ready…Feeling so connected to all the readers here..

    • Marina says...

      So sorry for your loss and the struggles your mom went through! Hugs to you!!

    • Meg says...

      I am so, so sorry for your loss. What a beautiful way of verbalizing these very hard truths!

    • Sasha says...

      Love to you Angelica, your journey sounds terribly hard. I’m so glad you find connection here. Sending you light.

  38. “Honestly, I’m 35, which is how old Aaron was when he died. In two months, I’ll be older than him, for the first time. I know on a daily basis that I am so lucky to be alive, and to have what I have. And a part of me will always feel guilty for it, honestly. This is me just trying to earn it.”

    Not sure if there a more honest or beautifully realistic way to describe survivors guilt. Big love to you, Nora.

  39. Laura C. says...

    This is, in my opinion, a very powerful beauty uniform post. Because lately in these Beauty Uniform posts we see and read beyond the beauty, the skin, the morning rituals. Due to my delicate state of mind right now, I wasn’t liking the path of these posts – you’re supposed to be reading about creams and instead of that you’re grieving for someone else’s losses. But this is the point of Cup of Jo, and I don’t want to miss the point. Good job, Cup of Jo team. This is a very powerful post and maybe it’s just what I need. Thank you for this post, and I send a very big hug to Nora and every reader who have lost their loved ones. ❤️.

  40. Laura C. says...

    Oh Kate, I am so sorry for your loss. I will pray for you two. Sending a big hug to you dear. <3

  41. Sara says...

    L’oreal Double Extend. Red and white tube. I only use the mascara end, not the white primer end. It’s so good. Big thick chunky lashed but comes off with a very gentle rub/swipe and warm water. If some comes off during the day you can just wipe it away NP. It’s only downside is I have yet to find it in black/brown or just brown. Only black.

    • Jess says...

      I second this! I was days away from last extensions because of printing below my eyes (like a racoon) and tried Double Extend and it solved everything for me. I have never tried it without the primer – will do that next!

  42. Pip says...

    Bloody hell – what a woman. Am in awe. Thanks to cupofjo for bringing these women to a wider (I hope) audience.

  43. Raleigh says...

    Thank you for featuring Nora, aka, real life. Yesterday, I couldn’t keep the tears inside anymore, and had to let a few out. One of my friends died just over a month ago, and society doesn’t allow for the quiet, withered bouquet, delayed season of grieving. The final letting go, the real life quiet that comes after the beautiful memorials are over. I have been so grateful for my quiet time with Jesus and good friends to bounce the grief off of this week, and this post was really meaningful, too. Big hugs all around, crew.

    • Sarah says...

      Hugs to you Raleigh. So sorry to hear about your friend…

  44. Justine says...

    Also, I highly recommend everyone follow Nora on Instagram @noraborealis and watch her stories. She’s recently started doing “nights with Nora” where she takes questions from and offers advice to followers and it is wonderfully sweet, real, tender, and hilarious— just like her! xo

  45. Justine says...

    I LOVE NORA!! I have followed her and loved her for probably 3.5ish years, shortly after Aaron died. I’m so excited to see her here! One person is conspicuously absent, though…where is Ralph?!

  46. Jill says...

    More Nora! She is so lovely and real. She had completely changed the way I think about a loved who is grieving (including myself). Don’t ask, just “pick the thing you can do.”

  47. Quinn says...

    This beauty uniform is my favorite thing I’ve ever read on cup of jo, which is quite a high bar! Nora, you’ve got a new fan in me. Thank you for this light of an interview

  48. Cynthia says...

    I am so sorry for those of you who are young and/or recent widows. I am so blessed to still have my husband. However, I lost my brother to lung cancer 8 years ago and my mom to old age 2 years ago, and my dad to cancer almost 45 years ago. I have learned that you adjust, but never get over it. Remember friends who have lost loved ones, because it takes time.

  49. K says...

    I loved this piece. Thank you Nora for sharing!

  50. Mandy says...

    What a wonderfully inspirational and powerful woman. Thank you to Cup of Jo for sharing her story.

  51. Anne says...

    Thank you for featuring Nora! I read her first book right after my parents died, three weeks apart. They had good long lives, but I was stunned to lose them so close together, followed by my dear aunt a few weeks after them. I felt unmoored, and I was so comforted by her writing that gave me permission to just feel bad. Thank you for these conversations with with brave, smart, strong, caring beautiful women!

  52. Kathleen says...

    First of all, this woman is amazing and so many other things that my words seem to escape me. I’m blown away by the women you feature on Cup of Jo. EVERY single one of them is passionate, relatable, resilient and gorgeous! It will be 9 years in December that my daughter passed away and it is so easy to slide your grief in to your back pocket but it does change you forever.

    • Christina says...

      So sorry for your loss, Kathleen…sending you a hug.Xx

  53. Ashley says...

    A) I recently got turned on to the Maybelline “Super Stay” matte lipsticks she mentions & this “never-wears-lipstick” woman now wears different shades ALLLL the time! They’re so great & I don’t feel icky at the end of the day!

    B) I went through a traumatic breakup last August, and one of the things that shines out brightest for me was one of my best friends made it a point to come over EVERY. TUESDAY. NIGHT (it had all happened on a Tuesday evening, and I’d started having panic attacks on Tuesdays). Ostensibly, it was to work on her PhD application essays, but really, we’d drink some wine & she’d let me cry & talk about it endlessly. I felt bad after a few months of this, but she gave me permission to take advantage of this part of our friendship. It was basically therapy: she gave me that space & time to grieve without a timeline or guilt that I was “talking about it too much”. And eventually, we actually worked on those essays! It cemented our friendship in a way nothing else ever has.

    • Christi says...

      I love your friend. By any chance is she free on Mondays?

  54. Emily says...

    what a vibrant, rich, multidimensional, powerful, fascinating woman. not that i’m surprised that she’d be chosen for a feature here–you guys pick the best! i felt enriched just reading about her.

  55. Tricia says...

    Nora, you’re my hero! I can relate to you in so many ways. Thank you for sharing your life with us.

  56. Kate says...

    My boyfriend just passed away this weekend. We were planning to elope. I don’t know where to go from here. We weren’t together long but we just knew. I felt like my whole self with him and now part of me is missing.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh my goodness, kate. i’m so, so sorry for your loss. what was his name?

    • Jen says...

      I am so sorry for your loss Kate.

    • fion says...

      I’m so sorry for your loss, I can’t even imagine what you myst be feeling right now. I wish more than anything that you have a loving circle around you while you process. Sending big hugs your way xxxxxx

    • Claire says...

      Kate, I am so very sorry to read of your loss. I wish you love, comfort and peace.

    • Cynthia says...

      I am so sorry.

    • Tracey says...

      You’ve suffered a terrible and very real loss. It makes no difference how long you were together or how old he was or any other device people like to use to measure your grief. Grief is immeasurable by such values. He was a piece of you. I am so sorry for your loss.

    • Silver says...

      Dear Kate, I am also so very very sorry for your loss. I wonder if I can tell you a story, a story that is not mine but one I have never forgotten? If not do not read on… a dear friend of mine moved into a shared warehouse apartment once, and one of the residents was a young woman who said “My fiancé died three years ago… every single day I wake up and I say to myself ‘one day closer to seeing him again’. But I am happy, enough of the time, and my life is curious and adventurous. But he was my soul mate”. She did not want to die – she just knew that when she did, she’d be with him – somehow. I have no idea what happened to her, did she find another love? I do not know, but my friend said that at the time, even though she mourned deeply, she still lived an amazing and brave life. I hope you can find a way to live grand life, and I am sorry that your sorrow is your shadow – but he loved something pretty damn awesome in you- and it is still there. I am an older lady, and I have been blessed with a true and long-lasting soul mate. I know that he and I would want the other to know joy, and adventure. because soul mates do find one another again -they must! Love is everything. I wish you the time and strength to carry on. I am so sorry.

    • Kate says...

      His name was Zack.

    • Bill says...

      Kate please join the Hot Young Widows Club. We’re all in the same boat and it’s not all married folks. I have become close to someone just like yourself on there. She was going to get married and he suddenly died. You will connect with others just like yourself I swear and it will help you! I’m sending you a big hug!

    • Carrie says...

      My heart breaks for you. I am so sorry for your loss

  57. Billy says...

    OMG!!!!! Nora’s Hot Young Widows Club has saved my life! My husband/partner of 20 years died suddenly in January of this year and I couldn’t relate to traditional support groups as I’m 42 but then I somehow discovered her book and then the support group and it completely changed my life. Seriously if I wasn’t in that group I’m certain I would have killed myself the pain was/is unlike anything I’ve ever felt before. The group is amazing and I laugh and I’ve met so many great new friends through it and I just met up with a fellow young widow I met in the group in NYC just this past weekend for a fun filled day together. She’s a god send! I wish our husbands hadn’t had to die for this to happen but thank god she started that group everyone in it is so appreciative of what Nora has done for us. I’ve been a long time reader of your blog JoAnna and now this post on Nora I just feel like I’ve come full circle! If any of you have a new widow/widower in your life MAKE THEM JOIN THE HOT YOUNG WIDOWS CLUB! It will help them more than anything else I swear!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      my sister said the same thing!!! she loved it so, so much.

  58. Lisa says...

    Can we have a week of outfits from Nora too??

    • Wendy says...

      I’ll second that! I love the bold colors and graphic patterns!

    • Kate says...

      Third!!

  59. Emma says...

    My sister and I talk about writing a review for L’Oreal Voluminous Lash Paradise (waterproof): lasted through my father’s funeral, my sister’s wedding six weeks later, my early miscarriage two months after, and the ensuing grief counseling! 10/10 recommend!

    • T says...

      You, Emma, are RESILIENT! Even moreso than L’Oreal Voluminous Lash Paradise ;)

  60. Rae says...

    Every sentence of this was a pleasure to read. I look forward to her Podcast and books now.

  61. I love how I can ‘hear’ her voice in my ear like she’s reading this to me since I listen to her podcast and have seen her present in person a couple of times. She just so real and so funny. And I feel a special sense of pride about her because she’s a Minneapolis resident, like me. :)

  62. Annie says...

    All of my favorite blogs, podcasts, people, etc are having crossover episodes!

  63. Nassim says...

    Love love love Nora – from one Minnesotan to another! And I LOVE “Terrible, Thanks for Asking”. It really puts life into perspective and makes you appreciate what you have. Plus her humor is amazing!

  64. Jennifer Planeta says...

    I can totally relate to what Nora says about her makeup routine after the passing of her husband. I lost my step father to pancreatic cancer and my brother to suicide last year within eight months of each other. For some reason, I’ve been so into my skincare and makeup routine. Nora articulated what I couldn’t put my thumb on. It’s a way to feel in control when things feel so out of sorts. When the big stuff goes down, it’s so comforting and manageable to focus on the little things such as eyeshadow, lip stick, a cloud, leaf, bird call …. Now I need to check out her podcast and books. Thank you!
    PS. Beautycounter makes a GREAT mascara. All of their products are amazing, incredible quality with better than European standards for safety and lack of toxins. I urge every man, woman and mother to check them out.

  65. SaraK says...

    Who/what are the Real Housewives of NPR? Google didn’t help me!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh haha she’s joking — it’s like the real housewives of atlanta/new york/etc (the TV series) but since nora works in radio, she would be on the real housewives of public radio :)

  66. Tess says...

    I absolutely LOVE that Cup of Jo takes something so simple and superficial as a beauty routine interview and uses it as a jumping off point to talk about deep, personal, difficult things. Such smart work!

    • Juliette says...

      I think that’s why it’s the only blog I come to every day. Religiously! Everything is smart, funny, insightful. I have just laughed and cried my way though the comments. Smart work is the perfect phrase.

  67. Jennifer Planeta says...

    All that she says about putting on her makeup after her husband passed. Last year, in the span of eight months, I lost step dad to pancreatic cancer and. my brother to suicide. It’s been a rough year but things like my skin and makeup routine seem to bring me such comfort. Nora totally articulated what I couldn’t put my thumb on. It’s a sense of control and normalcy. When the big things are going down it’s a relief to focus on the little things like eyeshadow, lip gloss, a cloud, a leaf…..
    PS. Beautycounter makes an awesome mascara!! Everything they make is awesome and it’s free of all the toxic stuff that our American cosmetics are riddled with.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i’m so sorry, jennifer. thank you for sharing your story, and i’m so glad that these things have helped. xo

  68. jones says...

    Thank you for featuring her. Her advice about having a long game for helping someone with grief is so spot on. My sister (my only sibling) died almost 3 months ago and so many people were supportive and showed up in the weeks immediately after. The past several weeks people has been extremely quiet and it feels lonely and like people have forgotten what happened. It is especially hard because I have already had conversations where people ask about holiday plans. My advice to anyone who has a loved one or friend going through a loss is to show up and be there for them. That may mean listening to them cry or say things they have said over and over again. It’s not easy, but it is what is most needed.

    • kathy says...

      i’m so sorry about your sister. xoxo

    • Cailin says...

      Hi Jones,
      I’m so sorry to hear about the loss of your sister. That has to be unbearably painful some days. And I’m sorry you’re feeling alone. It’s only through the internet, but I hear you. People haven’t forgotten. Sending you love.

    • Tania says...

      I’m so sorry about your sister, Jones. After my dad’s death in December, I too have found that other people move on just when our loss is really settling in and when we ultimately need them most. It’s extremely difficult to reach out and say that to a friend, but I wish you and me the strength to do so.

  69. Jessica Hardesty says...

    gah, love this. burning question: what eyeshadow is she wearing in the photoshoot??

  70. Susan Kerr says...

    Wonderful interview!! Another shoutout for Loreal tubing mascara – Double Extend. Comes off in spidery tubes with warm water and gentle pressure. NO dark shadows under my eyes with it! Glossier has one that isn’t really tubing but comes off with water and doesn’t smudge.

  71. Erin Mary says...

    I was on the podcast (the one that aired last week). I was so pleased with how the whole process went, start to finish. It was one of my favorite podcasts already, but now I just love it even more.

    • Erin Mary says...

      I just said “podcast” approximately 35,000 times in that comment. What I meant to say was that it’s a wonderful experience. I knew Nora was awesome, but even more so after reading this!

    • Anna says...

      I absolutely loved your episode Erin!

    • Olivia says...

      Erin!! Thank you for sharing your story. I work with children and it opened my eyes to the experience of those with dysfluency! I so appreciate Nora and all the lovely guests who are so kind to open themselves up in the interviews.

    • Erin Mary says...

      Thank you!! :)

  72. maria says...

    Utterly fantastic! All of it, but most especially her attitude and story. Also have to say what a breath of fresh air to see a beauty uniform from someone who probably could afford more expensive stuff, but uses inexpensive stuff and loves it. While it’s great to read about amazing products, I am just never going to spend say, $68 on a moisturizer, or $28 on a lipstick, even though i could afford it – just not who i am. Definitely looking into her $6 lipsticks! Bravo!

  73. Sally says...

    please, please, more words about hair extensions. how? what? where??

    • Kelsey Miller says...

      Hi Sally! I followed up with Nora who says: “They are easihair pro extensions and I get them at New Reflections Aveda salon in MN. They’re tape-ins. I have to get them re-taped every five weeks but they last for three tapings!!”

  74. Ilona says...

    Did not think I could love Nora or Cup of Jo more but OMG, adored this! Read it all in Nora’s voice too.
    Inspiring. It’s so great when things you love come together.

    • Christina says...

      I totally read it in Nora’s voice too!

  75. liz says...

    wow, this was great. she’s beautiful, obv, inside and out. seems like she has a killer personality and someone i’d love to be friends with.

  76. Kim says...

    This was great in so many different ways. I love her nonprofit in memory of Aaron!

  77. Stephanie says...

    You’ve earned it Nora, you’ve earned it.

  78. Amanda says...

    Sending you so much love and peace and all good vibes, Hollie. What a hard place to be in. I hope you have a good support system to help you through all of it.

  79. b says...

    Off to find a red lipstick.

    Can we get a week of outfits?

    • Anna says...

      Yes, please! Her clothes are so bright and vibrant!

  80. Kate says...

    My favorite beauty uniform ever. I’m so sorry for your loss, lovely miss Nora. I’m buying your books and kinda wish I could be your bestie! I am a geriatrician, and while my patients are often blessed with long lives, their deaths are often so sad and bittersweet for their families. Older people sense this nuance to life’s emotional landscapes that you talk about. And they nearly always talk about what’s important in life- cultivating meaningful relationships and loving each other. Much love to you!

  81. Tania says...

    This line!: “When you’re young you just hate everything about yourself for literally no reason”. This whole interview, really. Thank you!

  82. Randi says...

    Thrive mascara does not leave that grey silt. Weirdly, it reminds me of the consistency of rubber cement glue. It comes off in little balls, and does not smear.

    • Amanda says...

      My eye doctor recommended this to me the last time I saw her! On my list to try :)

    • stacee says...

      Thrive is amazing! I made my best friend try it recently and she texted me yesterday and said, no joke, that it had changed her life. It looks so great on, and comes off in the easiest, least messy way possible. I’ll never buy another mascara — and this, coming from a woman who used to love trying all kinds of different mascaras just to switch things up.

  83. Oneida says...

    “If you’re the one grieving, the worst thing is that it is your job to lead everybody.”

    This put into words so much my grieving experience.

  84. yvie says...

    This was exactly what I needed to hear today. Thank you, Nora.

  85. I love Nora she’s the cutest.

  86. Aah, two of my favorite worlds colliding! I absolutely love Nora and all her work.

    Also, from all the aspiring creators in the world, thanks to Nora for giving us a powerful mantra: “I just want to make things that somebody can point to and say, ‘It felt like that.’”

  87. Christine says...

    I’ve been a fan of Nora’s podcast for a long time now, it’s so profound, honest, inspiring, moving and yet so simple – all at the same time. (I’m also shocked that those are hair extensions! Thanks Nora for being honest and making my raging hair envy into an actual attainable thing!) I am so glad you featured her! She’s gorgeous inside and out. Thank you for this one Cup of Jo.

  88. Elizabeth says...

    “Tube” mascaras like Blinc do not create gray silt! I cannot wear any non-tube mascaras; even when I’m not crying they make a huge mess on my face. The tubing kind are a completely different formula than regular or waterproof mascara.

    • Jessica says...

      Yes! And there are a lot more version out there than people realize. Eyeko makes several, No. 7 has one (sold at Target), and so does L’Oreal. Tubal mascara is the only reason I can wear any mascara on my eyes.

    • Sally says...

      I can only wear tube mascara too and I like Loreal Beauty Tubes the best and in the interest of my auto immune disease challenged health I’ve been also using DHC mascara which is less toxic but not as lengthening. This shizz will never come off unless you are underwater and press it with your fingers.

    • Quinn says...

      Same! I was also going to suggest Blinc – I’ve been wearing it for years as it’s the only one that doesn’t give me raccoon eyes by the end of the day. (I didn’t know L’Oreal made a similar one – going to look for that!)

    • Elena says...

      L’Oreal Voluminous waterproof Mascara in Black/Brown does not smear. The black and other colors do not work as well… don’t bother to try them. Read about it online and ran out to buy it and it worked! It’s the only mascara that doesn’t leave a grey smudge under my eye during the day.

    • It’s not a tube mascara, but Cannonball by Urban Decay does NOT come off ever. It was recommended to me 5 years ago by another customer in Sephora who was visiting from Hawaii and said it’s what all of her friends use when surfing, and I bought some then and have never looked back. I’ve literally gone swimming and snorkeling in it and it’s still perfect. And nothing else gives my eyelashes such length without clumping.

  89. Emme says...

    Nora, you are a treasure. Although I am not a widow, my best friend just lost her darling husband and it has been a tragic, bewildering time. Your work has been a touchstone during this heart-wrenching and confusing set of circumstances. Thank you for creating a space of love and understanding for those of us who are lost. You are truly beautiful.

  90. Hollie says...

    Thank you for this. I became a 40 year old widow last Saturday and have SO many emotions. We were separated because of his alcoholism which complicates things even more I think. And I too, feel like lipstick and mascara every day are little things that remind me that I’m still here, and will be strong enough to parent my two kids on my own.

    • Leigh Anne says...

      I am so sorry Hollie. I lost my husband on Sunday the 4th, and am now a 37 year old widow. Big hugs to you.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      I’m so deeply sorry, Hollie. That must be so, so hard. We are holding you close in our thoughts. Sending so much love your way, to you and your two children.

    • Joanna says...

      Hollie, sending you peace and endurance as you navigate this new, strange time.

    • Kate says...

      I’m sorry for your loss, Hollie. That’s really hard, and I’ll be thinking of you.

    • Tricia says...

      Hugs to you. <3

    • Lindsey says...

      I’m so sorry, Hollie. Thinking of you today.

      Xoxo

    • agnes says...

      Hollie and Leigh Ann,
      So many thoughts towards you.

    • GJ says...

      Hollie and Leigh Anne, I am so deeply sorry for your losses. Hugs and good wishes for you both.

  91. Jen says...

    Please! More more more from Nora!

  92. Brittany Johnson says...

    WE LOVE NORA! (Speaking/yelling on behalf of my sister who I just called in the middle of the workday to share in the excitement of this COJ feature.) Our favorite Mpls resident/podcaster + our favorite blog = PURE JOY.

    Love,

    The S. Mpls Sisters

  93. I absolutely love this. I’m now going to 1. order her books and 2. put on red lipstick. Immediately.
    Also, Nora, if you’re reading this – check out NARS Starwoman. I think it would look amaze on you.
    Gem xxx

  94. Lauren P. says...

    Oh I just love her so much. I could listen to her talk about baking a potato and be just as enthralled. Thanks for featuring her! <3

  95. She is a goddamn delight!

  96. raq says...

    I LOVE Nora, I’m so happy to see her here!