On Becoming Erika Napoletano

I wonder about a lot of things.

Like, how long a bottle of vodka lasts in someone else’s house.

Whether it’s really been a day shy of four years since Jason died.

If I’ll ever tire of using the word “fuck” in new and exciting ways. Or even the same ways.

Whether people want to truly understand or if they simply prefer to yell — whether it be about a brave young woman with an aggressive, cancerous brain tumor or the alleged sexual transgressions of a celebrated Canadian host?

If yelling has become the new norm.

Why it took me 37 years to feel as if I had permission to be me.

Why, even 4 (going on 5) years after that, I still feel like I’m not “there” (aka, at “me”) yet.

I wonder if I ever want to be “there.” At critical mass, ME-level.

I wonder if that’s called complacency.

What it would be like to skydive, even though I’ll never jump out of a perfectly good airplane.

If I’ll ever publish a blog post without a typo.

I wonder whether he’s sleeping well when he’s not in my bed. And whether I should be spending more time in his.

If the happiness I feel will last.

If I have the wherewithal to endure the legion of hatemongers that populate the internet as I grow a digital brand where I — my brain, my thoughts, my life, my ideas, my fuckups, my YAYs — am the product.

I wonder if I’m a hypocrite for having written a book about the strength in unpopularity and sometimes wondering how much bullshit I have to deal with from the people who will never (ever) pick up what I’m putting down.

Whether the difference in our ages is an issue — whether I’m taking something from him or he’s giving me the gift of a lifetime.

I wonder if Small Dog will stop peeing on the floor when my man is over.

If Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert ever wake up in the morning — wildly popular and unpopular all at once — and think, “What the fuck am I doing?”

I wonder who the hell greenlit John Mullaney’s sitcom.

If I could ever see The Big Lebowski “too many times.”

I do. I wonder.

What do you wonder about?

I categorized today’s post as a Bitch Slap for a few reasons. First, I think it’s okay to wonder. I think it’s so incredibly okay that wonder should be a synonym for okay and I’m shocked that Gwyneth Paltrow didn’t name one of her kids Wonder.

Secondly, I know that life gets interesting when we move our Wonders (Stevie?) over into the What Ifs.

And I know I don’t do this nearly often enough. Hence…slap.

In the past month or so, I’ve made some massive strides and none would have been possible if I’d left my Wonders in the Wonder column. From a few more voiceover bookings to shooting a pilot for a web series to an incredible speaking engagement where I shared my vision of NEXT to an audience who drank it in like a frat guy on a free keg with final exams a month away — amazing.

And I also closed the door on Redhead Writing — the brand I’ve essentially hidden behind for 7 years — and decided to become….me.

So this morning, I’m sitting here in my bed (which is quite possibly made of unicorn essence and one of the great loves of my life aside from my other great fictional loves like Clive Owen and Robert Downey, Jr. and John Oliver) crying a little bit. It’s happy crying. Not like Niagra Falls kind of shit but good tears in periodic need of a sniffle and an arm swipe across the peeper region.

Becoming me. It’s so funny that nearly 42 years have gone by (December 10 — holler) and I’m writing about becoming ME.

Many of you have been around this joint since the 2007 time in some form or fashion. Others are newer (hello). Others might pop in and out when your Wonder takes hold and you can’t help it but to click.

But the coolest part is that each of you are responsible for my becoming more and more ME. And it’s an incredble journey.

I remember the days where being a good person wasn’t at the top of my list — rather, it was what can I yell about and how loud might I be able to yell? Redhead Writing (ranting) was good at that. And damn it if lots of folks didn’t come along for the ride. Some readers have even unsubscribed, saying they miss that ranty-as-hell redhead and that I’ve “lost my edge.”

Oooookay. Well, if that’s the thing you miss, you’re missing a persona — not a person.

But the past few years, I’ve been restless. Oh, darlin’ — my loves — I’ve been restless. And it’s mostly because I’ve come to realize that I hate yelling.

I hate the people who build brands and lives on tearing down others (though I will mercilessly call out those who feel the need to come into my house and tell me how to decorate the place).

I hate the thieves, the stealers of ideas, the ones who create names based on nothing but cheap bastardizations of the efforts of others.

And hate’s a funny thing. It’s helped me discover what I love.

What I Love

First, I love ME. Because for so many years, I tried to be anyone but. I tried on other personas, exaggerated versions of aspects of my personality, because I saw that people like thse traits in other people. But soon, the weight of theft — of stealing from myself and the beauty that is ME in order to make something false shine — became too great.

It’s lighter to become ME. And it’s honest. And there’s not an ounce of thievery involved.

Thieves want the Easy Button. For everything to work and be a sure thing every time.

But ME? I want to try. I want to see what works. I want to bring things, people, and ideas together and put them in a petri dish with some John Legend in the background and a decent $20 bottle of red and see what I can create. I’m creating something for my business that’s so goddamn exciting I can barely contain myself. But I’ll have to. It’s not going to be ready until January 12. Because I’m trying.

I love trying.

 

Secondly, I love solutions, compassion, and both delivered with a sense of abruptness. I’m never going to be the gal who holds your hair back while you puke up last night’s mistake. But I will be the gal who reminds you that, even in your shittiest hours, the tile is cool and there’s nothing wrong with crashing on the bathroom floor (because we’ve all done it). I’ll never (again) be the gal who rants on and on about someone doing dumb shit (yellers) without offering a solution as to how it might have been done better.

I will be the gal with the potty mouth who uses the word “fuck” for good instead of evil — never to tell other to go fuck themselves or Fuck You in any other sense than the general (kinda like here, for those who take issue with my vocabulary choices). I’ll poke you and ask just how many fucks you have to give this or that. I’ll ask you how you’re spending the limited number of fucks you have to give in this lifetime.

I’ll remind you to stop being so fucking mean to yourself.

And I’ll always be the gal reminding you that, in a world full of people waiting to tear you down, steal your puppies, and leave the office coffee pot empty because they “couldn’t find the filters” (you. ass.) — I will remind you (and daily) that you are fucking awesome.

I never delude myself into thinking that y’all read every word of what I have to say. But I do hope that your days are better and minds brighter for having read the words you have the time/inclination/given the fucks to read. I’m grateful.

I love solutions, compassion, and cutting out the bullshit.

 

Finally, I love the feeling of being restless. I wake up each day with a pair of burlap Spanx on (gents, the equivalent would be a steel wool jockstrap) and I spend the rest of the day irritated.

Uncomfortable.

Being restless is the moment when my bullshit becomes more important than everyone else’s.

It’s the moment of saying  I ain’t got time for your bullshit because, Peggy Sue Linderman, it is high time I started dealing with my bullshit.

And while I have no idea who Peggy Sue Linderman is, she is ripe with some bullshit.

I’ve built a career on helping smart brands and the people who lead them deal with their bullshit (because they’ve built careers helping other people deal with theirs in some form or fashion). And I’ve fallen in love with being restless and helping these other restless people focus on the right pile of bullshit. It’s my WHY. And since falling in love with restless, I’ve gotten a lot of my own bullshit squared away.

Being restless is the reason that, after 7 years, I put the whole of the Redhead Writing brand to rest this week and became…me.

On Twitter, you’ll now reach me at ErikaNapo (though I still have that RedheadWriting handle, you sneaky assholes who were thinking you could swipe that because many have tried). I don’t tweet as much as I used to, but it’s a damn fine way to get ahold of me. Make me laugh. And I’ll do my best to be funny every now and again.

On Facebook, I’m Erika Napoletano. The Redhead Writing community is still a community, but Redhead Writing has never been anything other than me. Join me and nearly 28,000 crazy ass people who laugh all day long. We feel and think and the best ideas are never mine. Thank heavens.

It was high time I became me.

I love being restless.

 

So today, I ask you:

Who are you and are you restless?

(And may I ask how long a bottle of vodka lasts in your house?)

While a name change might not seem a big deal, it’s part of my restless. One more thing I had to do to scratch my itch. And Redhead Writing — I love her and all she’s afforded me. But I can’t be her any longer because my ME is what you deserve.

Why? Because the me that I am today (and was a few years ago) can’t be my ME forever.

That’s what restless is for. It’s there to make us each ask: How can I become that next better version of myself?

And damn — what a lovely question.

I wonder what the answer will be.

Thanks for reading. For being here. For spending 7 minutes of your day reading 1700 words. For those who unsubscribe because I’m not the ranty cunt I used to be. Or just because I use the word cunt.

You’re all fucking gorgeous. And I’ll remind you of that every. Single. Day.

37 replies
  1. CaseyAGibson
    CaseyAGibson says:

    I read this and thought, “Erika, get out of my fucking head!” You have an innate (and, if you don’t mind me saying, slightly  annoying) ability to put into words all the things I’m thinking and feeling as I try to create a brand – and a life – that is authentically ME. Oh, and Vodka lasts just a bit longer than good Kentucky Bourbon in my house…but not much.

    Reply
  2. Sebastian Fine
    Sebastian Fine says:

    How I got on your page every single time:

    1: Open Google
    2: Put in Erika Napol
    3: Click the link

    So for me it was never redheadwriting.

    I´m Sebastian and I´m restless. But to keep up I´m not drinking. Monday is my last day working 9-5, going to Thailand and building my own little empire. That´s my restless.

    Sebastian.

    PS: You´re really gorgeous.

    Reply
  3. Barbara Goldberg
    Barbara Goldberg says:

    Mazel Tov!  It takes a lot chutzpah to claim being restless and wanting to be you. It’s taken me 51 years to get back to being ME. I’m still a work in progress but I’m happy with the person who looks back at me in the mirror each and every day. Please never stop evolving and becoming a better version of you!
    P.S. 9 years ago I jumped out of a perfectly good plane and didn’t realize that it would set the stage to move me forward with my life.

    Reply
  4. LesKertay
    LesKertay says:

    Well, since I just got off the phone with you, you know that I’m restless, wondering, and after 61 years and change I’m still becoming. I give up on thinking I will ever arrive, because I’ve come to the conclusion that would suck. 

    I credit you with helping me find the method to my madness, and that is no small thing – in fact, it’s the one thing I’ve always been about doing for other people, now for real and in spades.  “Coming soon” seems to be the theme.

    And in my house, vodka lasts forever because I drink Scotch. And wine. And Irish Whiskey.  But not vodka.  

    Cheers Erika!

    Reply
  5. Erika Napoletano
    Erika Napoletano says:

    LesKertay I also drink scotch. And wine. And you’re a good man, Les Kertay. You’ve been a model for me, making me relook at love. For that, I thank you. And working with you is my privilege and honor. Your method and madness aren’t so mad. They’re incredibly brave. And admirable. Hat tip, good sir 🙂

    Reply
  6. taraiana
    taraiana says:

    Erika! Just….thank you. I’m so lucky to have you as a piece of my life – your bad-ass-bitch wisdom has made things much simpler, and just better for me and my life/growth.

    I’m definitely still young, and still have a lot of failures (albeit, more successes) in my future. Your posts have helped me make healthier, good-for-me choices.  
    I think we can find out who we are, we are always growing and changing, so who we are does too. 

    Moral of this post, is thank you for being you, and sharing your stories, and I hope to keep hearing from you and learning from you! You are incredible.

    Love,
    Tara

    Reply
  7. ASwirlGirl
    ASwirlGirl says:

    I’m here for you, Ericka Gurl, WHATEVER you decide to do. I’m on an amazing journey to finding and being me, and I love hanging out with you while you’re on your way to yours. 

    My hallmark quote and mantra for life? “This above all: to thine own self be true.” ~William Shakespeare

    Keep being and doing YOU. <3

    Reply
  8. MiachelleDePiano
    MiachelleDePiano says:

    I’ve never read you before. This was linked on FaceBook, and I’m glad I clicked on it. I’m 45, and in two years I’ve radically changed my life and pissed off many people who once were supposedly near and dear. I’m finding more and more I need to be me, and that sometimes it pisses people off. People are afraid of change, of being forced to reflect and perhaps make changes that will actually break them out of their loop of insanity. I loved this post, and I thank you for writing it. Cheers.

    Reply
  9. Erika Napoletano
    Erika Napoletano says:

    MiachelleDePiano First, WELCOME to my world. Mine’s better for having you in it. Secondly, thanks for clicking. My stuff can be terrifying for many. Mostly to those who are scared shitless of change.
    And finally, in the journey of becoming the next better version of myself, I’ve pissed a lot of people off, too. And people have pissed me off. But I always find myself in the company of people who love my ME at the end of every day.
    That’s company I’m glad to be in. I’m thinking you’ve found the same.

    Have a gorgeous day 🙂

    Reply
  10. LunaLeverett
    LunaLeverett says:

    Hey Girl! Welcome to YOU!  The you you are today which is different than the you you will be tomorrow but no matter what, is Erika Napoletano. Proud of you. Thanks for being real and I know that each and every post is like putting your heart out there for all to either be kind or mean to (or worse, indifferent :::wink:::) but you do it anyway. And today, it helped me and I’m sure others because each day we have to choose whether or not we are going to be who we ARE or if we are going to try to squeeze ourselves into the shape of someone we are not. 

    You make me laugh, you make me think, you help me be braver.  Keep being you because you’re darn good at it!

    Reply
  11. JGabrielBier
    JGabrielBier says:

    Erika-

    I love your page, and I ended up here completely by accident. I am attracted to strong women, and strong language.  I love your wit and honesty. 
    It doesn’t hurt that your are also pretty fucking ….. beautiful.
    ON VODKA:
    The vodka is safe from me, because I prefer beer over vodka.  I already suffer delusions that I can fly and I really don’t need vodka giving my any more weird ideas. 

    ON SELF (RE)DISCOVERY:
    I too am rediscovering myself at this precious age of 42. 
    At 28, I fell in love with a woman who I assumed would be my partner forever.  I nurtured her career, and followed her dreams.  Somewhere along the way, I lost mine and I fucking lost her too! 

    She is a pretty fucking amazing woman, but there’s lots of amazing women out there. 

    Amazing is, well amazing is pretty fucking normal these days.  
    When I woke up from the American dream at 42, I was stuck in a town I hated (Yuma, AZ) and working a job I had learned to hate (Law Enforcement Officer).  I missed being a detective, because you get all the glory with none of the risk. Paper cuts and getting stabbed in the back by a self-promoting boss where my biggest worries.  But as a real cop, I was stuck answering 9-1-1 calls and arresting the same assholes week after week and watching the system spit them back out to do it again.  
    So, with the fear of divorce I just packed up all my toys and left everything behind that I could not carry. 

    I apologized to the Sheriff, and told him that I just couldn’t stay.  He simply asked “Did you get to keep the dog?”  I said “Yes” and he simply replied “then you’ll be alright.”
    It took me 11 states before I settled down. 

    I am still not very settled down, just gainfully employed.  I could easily pack up and move tomorrow, but I think I really want to stay with this employer.  So if Germany or Switzerland ever opens up — I am GONE!  Fuck standing still!  I want stamps in my passport.

    As for rediscovering what I lost – I am back to mountaineering, rock climbing, and of course FUCKING skydiving! 
    I have stopped telling myself that I married the wrong woman.  I know now that I married the right woman, she just needed to be somewhere else (even if with someone else).  

    I too have to be somewhere else, I am just not sure exactly where that is….  That may change tomorrow, or even later this evening.  I just plain refuse to have two bad days in a row…. and I haven’t for the longest time.

    Reply
  12. JenniferCarter1
    JenniferCarter1 says:

    It feels so dam good knowing I’m not the only one!!!  I’m turning 40 on Monday and have been running back to myself as fast as i fucking can since my son was born 7 years ago. I put all my blood and guts into showing him that he’s more than good enough just the way he is and whoever doesn’t like it…fuck ’em.  Thank you Erika

    Reply
  13. AngieColee
    AngieColee says:

    You go girl. 

    I realized that when I had a snarky dating blog. I wondered one day why I only attracted assholes. It was because I always ranted about dating assholes. Over and over, I just attracted that shit to me.

    Evolution and growth is a beautiful thing. Don’t let any of the haters steal any of your fucks.

    Reply
  14. yazminjoy
    yazminjoy says:

    Love this. Love your honesty! Often we don’t want to be ‘who’ we are because we chase excitement beyond our ordinary lives – we want more excitement. But being yourself and stepping out and kicking ass as you are – is one of the greatest adventures a person can go on. With ya girl!

    Reply
  15. brycekatz
    brycekatz says:

    The next better version of myself started with the final acknowledgement that – after 12 years – I actually don’t like running my own business after all. I’m OK at it, but I want to get back to things that I’m more than just “OK at”. I want to do things that light me on fire.
    So I’m out. I start a brand new job on Monday that’s going to bring a bunch of good things.

    Reply
  16. Kristy Alagna
    Kristy Alagna says:

    Thank You Erika – you always inspire me to push my ReSet button. Why ‘reset’? I’ve started over many times in my life; usually in 7 yr cycles, since the last time it’s been 9 years. I now see these choices-to-change as a simple, honest resetting because no matter the geography, the job/work, the money downs n’ ups, even the relationships – I yam what I yam and it’s all that I yam (Popeye quote). Some days I’m quiet, other days fiercely direct – both by conscious intention (not to be confused with clinical bi-polar nonsense). I love the Variety in my life experiences, even things that were pull-the-earth-out-from-under-me painful at the time.

    59 1/2 year Gaia Veteran News Flash: Resetting gets funner and funner and it’s effects are Amplified every time!

    Another quote: “Be in the Present aided by the force of the Past while embracing the dreams [the resetting] of the Future” (mine).

    A request Erika: you recently posted you were doing a live performance of some kind. I live in Chicago and really wanted to be surprised by and support your stuff (not to be confused with wired undergarments). I looked all/everywhere on your site and elsewhere and couldn’t find any info. Please post details of future live gigs. Thanks!

    Reply
  17. abigailAzul
    abigailAzul says:

    I’ve been asking the same question to myself! How could I be a better version of myself? Sometimes I feel like I have some calling but sometimes I don’t know what I’m really passionate about. I also ask if there’s more to me than my present self? Should I aspire more or just stay put? But sometimes there’s no choice because people are nudging you to move.

    Reply
  18. debmiller
    debmiller says:

    Oh my goodness how I LOVE this! I can’t even begin to tell you how much or why I love this so but thanks for thinking it and writing it down and sharing it. I’m not even entirely sure how I got to this post in the first place this evening because the words struck such a chord with me that now I’ve forgotten what I was looking for when I stumbled across it. Love your voice and yes, I too wonder everyday I wonder and my wonder almost always starts with why in the hell am I doing…

    Reply

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