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Redhead Writing Christmas

I have no idea WHAT this is, but I found it on CreativeCommons.org

One redhead, one Mini Cooper, two dogs, two cats and two bikes. On Monday morning, December 27, 2010, we all roll out for a month and a half of pretty unknown adventure. My lease was up here in Denver so I couldn’t think of a better time to take it on the road and skip out on a rent payment for a few months. That’s the beauty of being Redhead Writing – I can be her from anywhere there’s an internet connection.

And it’s time for me to reconsider what matters.

If I can’t fit it into/on top of a Mini Cooper, does it matter? A 16-foot POD sitting in front of my house might beg to differ, but I’m curious as to what the answer will be. And today, the day before Christmas, I’ll tell you what’s on my mind about what matters:

  • Calling my family on Christmas since I won’t be going home this year.
  • Seeing Jason’s family and friends next week as I visit Iowa and continue to celebrate his life.
  • Spending time with one of my best friends and her new husband in LA in January as they anxiously await the arrival of their first baby. I could get to see a baby being born – OMFG, I have a FlipCam.
  • Riding my bike in LA, up the coast. On the track down in Carson. Working with a coach who accepts no excuses. Feeling sea air on my face as I pedal.
  • Yoga. As many mornings as I can muster.
  • Embracing ambiguity and knowing four walls don’t define me.
  • Crashing my friend Merredith’s house on Christmas (they offer most excellent holiday shelter for geographic orphans).
  • Being a better friend, becoming a better business owner.
  • Embracing each day that it’s not about what you have but what you give…and give without thinking.
  • Writing, because I must. When your inside asks to be outside, it’s often not asking nicely. Honoring your Inner makes you a better Outer.

As Redhead Writing is closing at noon today, I have some work to do. And I’ll leave you with a few reminders that I know to be true:

  • Stop spending. Anyone who measures love or worth by the price of your present doesn’t deserve your present.
  • Stop cooking. There will be enough. There always is (and you know it).
  • Stop moving. If you watch nothing else today, watch this TEDx presentation from Scott Stratten. We move too much. Be still.
  • Stop yelling.
  • Smile. And mean it. Stop it with those disingenuous crappy smirks.
  • Hold the people you love (and grow a pair – say “I love you”)
  • Set a place at the table for those who couldn’t be there with you this year. They’ll see it and think you’re a fucking idiot, but you’re going to have extra yams anyways. Screw it.
  • Breathe. There’s nothing so important in this life that we can’t stop to take in air.
  • The unexpected is riddled with bliss. Give it a reacharound. You’ll thank me later.

Happy Halloweenikwanzihannukimas. Now quit reading my blog and go do something important.

Blue Balls and Lighting Fires

blue balls and lighting fires When you’re laying on a table getting your back tattooed as I was yesterday, there are a few things that go through your mind:

1.  Oh…that’s not so ba…JESUS!
2.  Is he done yet?
3.  That’s a pretty pattern in the cracking plaster on the ceiling.
4.  What the hell got me here?

Focus on #4. December 21, 2010 – and how the hell did I get to be face-down on a table in Fort Collins, Colorado getting a permanent piece of ink that effectively covers 1/3 of my back from my neck down? Yeah, yeah – you can be a smart ass and say I made the appointment and drove my car there, but honestly – it’s been one helluva a year. There couldn’t be a better title for today’s post than Blue Balls and Lighting Fires, and it’s uncanny that I found a stock photo with all of the required elements.

It occurred to me that we tend to think of life broken up into years. 2009. 2010. The looming 2011. I just turned 38. In two years, I’ll be 40. Years – everywhere.

Years are pretty much bullshit. They’re like a half-assed gift wrapping job on a basketball – there because you feel like someone’s going to experience a modicum of surprise when they open it. OH! A basketball! I had no idea! vs. OH! Another year! You shouldn’t have.

Wrapped basketballs are the years of the time measurement arena. We keep wrapping time up in seemingly manageable packages, but it doesn’t help. We break New Years resolutions, we spend too much, we love too little of our hearts and we expect the occurrence of yet another year to change things. And that, my friends, is a colossal load of holiday-flavored bullshit*. (*available in Peppermint, Pumpkin Spice and Banana Bread)

January 1 doesn’t change anything. It’s a reference point. And while I’ve pretty much had my head up my ass on the emotional side of things since Jason died on October 31, I know that January 1, 2011 won’t change the things I want to be changed most. So if you asked me today how my year was, you’d probably get a squinty look and a curled lip accompanied by a, “It sucked, to be honest.” I’m incapable of seeing my life in a block of a single 12 months.

But if you ask me about my decade…my decade has been beyond compare.

Ten years ago, I was 28. If I compare life as I knew it then to life as I know it today, there’s a chasm between that’s filled with experience. Joy. Laughter. Loss. Success. Travel. Firsts. Lasts. Love. Ideas.

That’s a helluva lot better picture than a year that I started in love with a man who didn’t deserve it and that I’m ending having suddenly lost the one man who did.

If I chose to look at my life in years, I’m just giving myself blue balls.

Looking at it in decades…that’s a picture of a woman who’s lit fires and watched them burn.

I like the fire.

The holidays are rough for me this year, no lie. But the coolest thing about a decade – you can take a snapshot of any ten years and look at what you’ve created. Where have you been? What did you do? We place such enormous pressure on ourselves to have our “best year yet” every January 1, but do we ever stop to consider that we’ve had a pretty fucking epic collection of years? It’s a simple question to answer – the “what got me here” with regards to the back tattoo on December 21, 2010. But I’m realizing I like NOT the big picture – I like the bigGER picture. It gives me a lot more credit for being a human being than the immediate 12 months prior ever could.

Lighten the load on yourself. Cut yourself some slack. You can start anything at any time. Only you can choose if you’re going to give yourself blue balls or discover that you’re capable of lighting fires that burn through time like an iron on vinyl.

Happy holidays – and a special thanks to The Denver Post for featuring a certain loud-mouthed redhead in the Sunday paper on the 19th. It’s another thing that adds to a pretty fucking epic decade. Hat tip.

All Martin Wants for Christmas

guest post Martin StellarToday’s post is by Martin Stellar. He contacted me last week, asking if I’d like to read something he’d written, as he realized he had inadvertently made it a dedication to Jason Schippers. I said “ship it,” and today, you’re reading Martin’s literary craftings. Martin Stellar is a copywriter and a singularly odd micro-genius. He’s usually harmless and sometimes even funny, when he’s not busy rousing people into performing charitable acts of kindness. You can follow Martin on Twitter and check out his site at MartinStellar.com. If you’re interested in guest posting on ErikaNapoletano.com, use my contact form to drop me a line.

This post was intended to go on my own blog, but as I was writing it I realized that somehow, at some deeper level, I was dedicating it to Jason Schippers. I carefully asked Erika if she would like to read it. Afterwards, she said that she would post it, so here we are.

Why I Didn’t Write Last Night – And Why I Want a Christmas Present From You

Last night I had just finished a productive day of work, and I figured I’d go to a bar to write a guest post that’s been laying around for a while. You know, have a beer and see some life around me. Being a writer is nice and for an ex-monk living the hermit lifestyle is fine, but sometimes you just want some fresh air and some people in earshot.

I toted my laptop down the street, installed myself, ordered a beer. Started writing. Stopped.

There was a man right next to me who wanted to know why I was sitting in a plain old cafe with my shiny Mac.

“You’re a writer? Write about me!”

I eyed him carefully. A fifty-ish, slightly nervous but friendly guy, dressed rather less than casually. He looked like a simple but shrewd feller.

“Ok” I said. “Tell me a story, and I’ll write it down. Tell me something from your past that really touched you. Good or bad, but something that had an impact.”

He said we’d have to go to his friend’s bar and he’d tell me. I didn’t really want to because I was in the mood for a good writing session of my own, but he said: “Do me the favor.”

His friend’s bar was, in a word, grotty. Tiles on the wall, a stainless steel counter. A clientele consisting of older men in various states of alcoholic soporification, life fatigue, or by the looks of it: both.

The girl behind the counter was a pretty Colombian number with as keen an eye as you’ll ever see, and a black eye that was just short of being healed.

Broken people. Lost hope, strength, dreams. A lost leg. Resignation.

You know. People. It just happened to be a condensed mix of people who hadn’t made it in life. People who had nowhere near the chance all of us do to make something of it yet.

I Crashed

Here I was, a happy and fairly successful foreigner, in a small working man’s town in Southern Spain. In tune and in touch with the hip and the rich, carving out his little niche. Huzzah.

Surrounded by people who had totally lost their way.

The thing that hurt me most was seeing a girl who, by the looks of it, should have been a stellar student somewhere.  Stuck in a grimy cafe, drafting beers for clients who only wanted to chat her up crudely. And probably feel her up in the same manner. With almost enough make-up to cover her fading black eye. Young, and still unbroken enough to make it forward, but probably in for another few years of beating from her souteneur. That’s a fancy word for a not so fancy job: pimp.

It really sucked. While I am getting into the swing of this new career and being awed daily by the amazing people I meet, somewhere around the corner something bad happens. Someone falls and can’t get up, either in the bathroom or in life.

Every day.

Nothing new eh? Big deal. Life suck and shit happens, correct? Maybe I just happened to walk into a mental asylum and asked: ‘Is the entire world mad?’

Whatever, maybe. Your call.

So Why the Deuce Did I Stay There?

Because I realized that right then and there, I was able to give these people something that cost me nothing at all. In fact, I was getting free beer for it. But I could give them something that they probably haven’t received in more time than they’d care to remember.

In this case, talking to my new friend Julian, it was undivided attention. An hour or so of someone really listening to him. Paying attention to what he says, how he feels, who he is. Because, you know, he’s one of the lost ones. On the street, most people wouldn’t spend too much time talking to him.

With the girl, it was a good looking mysterious foreigner, who chatted with her a bit about Colombia and living in Spain. For a change, a man who did not want something from her. Just a chat, a few smiles and nothing more.

I walked out burning and itching to write this.

This Christmas, I Want You to Give

And I’d like you to start right the fuck now, please. With a cherry on top (and a battle axe in my hand).

Yeah I’m in the seasonal mood. You bet. Even though I’m the guy who vomits first when the Christmas madness starts in October in the shops.

I want you and everybody else, to give. I don’t care what it is. Anything goes. It’s about you giving something, something small and free. Just because you can.

You’ll find that with all the following examples, the person you give it to, he or she will not have been expecting it at all. They may not even be used to it anymore. And they may even not want it, in which case you shouldn’t push through. It’s not a gift if it’s forced upon someone.

Do it. Give. You’ll do a favor to them and to yourself with each of these little gifts, and every other you can think of.

Give…

  • A hug
  • A smile
  • A cup of coffee to the guy next in line
  • A book you cherish
  • Some time that you’d rather spend on something else
  • Biting your tongue for a change
  • Speaking your mind for a change
  • Not being so bloody stubborn for a change
  • Standing your ground for a change
  • Forgiveness
  • If you want to give some money to someone or some cause, give it
  • Lots of forgiveness
  • Love, of course (What, are you dumb? Of course love)

Anything will do. Give something to someone, as often as you can, just because you can.

And don’t stop after Christmas. Just do it, again and again. It’ll even become second nature. And it will show you something sooner or later, and I would love for you to send me an email when that happens.

Do it. Give. Thank you.

Merry Christmas.

Yeah, what did you expect? You think I’m going to wait a week to fully ride that Christmas wave like a good sleazy marketer should? I’m not a whore.

Well, maybe a little. Merry Christmas.

Oh, and please share, spread, retweet, Stumble, Facebook, Digg, Reddit and whatever the hell you want to do. Print it out and paste it on a message board. Make a Christmas card out of it. Mail it to your friends. Let’s get this message SEEN, people.

This is published under full free rights. You can do with this message whatever you want as long as you keep the core message intact. Copy, alter, edit, put your name under it, I don’t care. Whatever it takes to get this message out to as many people as possible.

Let’s tell the world that we have all, every one of us, something valuable to give. Let’s start giving. Now.

Wouldn’t You…a #best09 post

Where you wouldn't expect it...On the corner of 13th and Speer, a leftward glance showed a lone balcony strung with multicolored lights, defiant yet joyous and bright with hope. Or maybe it was just electricity. In buildings like these, hope leaves for the coast and the landlord takes his checks right from the city. Utilities are included and washer/dryers a luxury. I have no doubt that inside, I’d find carpet of the “nothing special beige” tone, white appliances and a tub that drains slower than congested sinuses. The Christmas tree, however…

it would be real. Plastic ones are spendy.

This is the house where Wouldn’ts rule the season.

Beginning on the balcony with the lights you wouldn’t expect to see and stretching inward to a tree that wouldn’t fit in the elevator and had to be carried up the stairs. The ornaments wouldn’t match and Pottery Barn wouldn’t approve. The star wouldn’t be what you would expect – maybe an array of tiny drink umbrellas like the four-year-old Isabel used at last night’s Redheaded holiday eve. Some of the lights work while the others wouldn’t, but the tree is mostly aglow and that’s good enough.

This holiday, wouldn’t it be better to sit in front of a friends than a tree? To exchange expressions of love and laughter that last beyond a manufacturer’s warranty? To find that place where hope should have hit the last plane for Tahiti yet stuck around like a half-buzzed bargoer, running on faith for a last-minute hookup before last call?

It’s said that hope floats, but I think it really does so much more. It elevates, perseveres and lifts you more than any prayer. It’s the audacity to believe in the fairy tale and surround yourself with possibility. On the corner of 13th and Speer, I saw a better year than mine during 2009 strung-up in multicolored lights, and I’ve no room for complaint. I saw smiles from people I’ll never know reflected in ornaments I’ll never see as they eat food I’ll never taste and sing carols to which I don’t know the words. And this Christmas, wouldn’t it be great if there were a corner of 13th and Speer wherever you live that you could drive by at nightfall and see hope up-close?

It’s the best. And it’s not under any tree.

Red Head, Warm Heart: Elf Smut 2009

Again, this is NOT my dogNo, there’s no elf smut in here (but I got ya to click!). Welcome to my holiday edition, 2009. Last year’s Red Head/Warm Heart talked about love and tolerance. Always a fine theme, needless to say. This year, I’m talking about some holiday ass kicking. A gift to give to yourself.

Empowerment.

I appreciate my readers, followers, fans – I call you my Pet Monkeys out of pure affection. I can’t think of anything more fun than watching a bunch of monkeys flying through the air, swinging from trees, picking their bee-hinds and flinging poo. It’s like a family reunion, only better! You all allow me to do what I love: write and publish content that encourages dialogue and laughter with a little bit-o-fuck-you thrown in.

So this holiday and in the year coming, why not do the same for yourself?

This holiday season, pick yourself up some elf smut. Workshop naughtiness. Cook up something fantastic outside of Santa’s eyes and set it into action. Hell, turn on the video camera if you want, but get something together that’s been lurking at the back of your brain…and DO.

Give your self the latitude to be successful.

This holiday season:

  • Embrace possibility instead of limitation.
  • Smile a bit more.
  • Frown a bit less.
  • Collaborate instead of segregate – there are enough brilliant ideas to go around.
  • Figure out what YOU bring to the table and serve it up in style.
  • Ask for help, but give even more. Even when you think people don’t deserve it.

And most of all…

Stop fearing the possibility of getting what you always wanted. Self-sabotage is a ninja, lurking around every corner. I say grab that ninja, bend it over the kitchen table and get your elf smut on. When you realize that you can have everything and thwart those who don’t want to see you succeed, your heart settles, business prospers, and you stop having to look for checks in the mail since your Paypal account is filling up.

I’ve had a brilliant year filled with what could have been earth-shattering events. Rather, I bent those ninja elves over the kitchen table. Today, I love my business and my life and the fact that I live – each and every day – exactly what I’ve always wanted to do. I’m on the verge of all I’ve ever wanted and it’s…shit, it’s scary y’know? I can only hope that this holiday, you give a gift to yourself. One of latitude. I think it’s a breadth and depth you’ll enjoy. And if nothing else, I’m hoping I’ve left you with a scathing visual regarding elves, ninjas and kitchen tables to take you through the holiday season.

And Now, The List…

Wendie – who remains my evil twin and co-author in crime. Can’t wait to see you in a few days!

Jodi – who from afar continues to feed my sick sensibilities and make me laugh. Much love to you.

Xavier – who knew we’d end up being friends like this? You’re the meekrat in my zoo.

Cali – for her ongoing success at redirecting drinks through my nose via laughter, ridiculous hash tags and inappropriate remarks. Your friendship has been one of the greatest gifts of this year. My ankle thanks you as well.

Sara L. – for being the voice of reason, the occasional lack thereof, and for letting me watch as you took an incredible leap of faith and gave yourself “latitude.” I adore you and am over the moon that Rabid Love Bunny, Birds & Squirrels and I got to meet you in-person this year. Keep on with you and that new filing system – as everything else will come.

Lisa H. – between you, Cali and Sara, I have so much “girl power” backing me that my cup runneth over. You’re beautiful, tall, talented and witty – a scathing and cherished combination for any man, client or animal lucky enough to have you. I’m delighted John introduced us and even more delighted we’ve become friends.

Rick R. – for pure goodness. Dammit man, you’re just good stuff. Big heart, great laugh, killer smile and a great friend.

Elisa – for connecting, continuing and getting out of the house with me. If we continue to drag one another out, we’ll not only have a social life but get some sun to boot!

Edward B. – for laughter, more real conversation than we’ve ever had, and for fixing that gimp shoulder so we can go climbing. And for forgetting my birthday present every time we get together 😉

My quiz crew: Rich, Chris, and Melanie – you’re the most delightful friends and a veritable cornucopia of useless information. In 2010, we shall triumph…or find a team of ringers whose coattails we can ride to repeated victory.

My Pet Monkeys: Lee T., Darren B., Paul-Baptiste, Terry & Kia, Ted S., Matt G., Grant & Sarah B. (Wondertwin Powers – Activate!), Duffy G., Deb & Dave (@BizCoachDeb & @DarkHeath), Chris Rippe, Josh M., Paul B.,Mykl R., Matt B., my precious @hubbit, @MariKurisato, the @PembaServes crew, @chicksclimbing, Jason & Lisa N. (@visualadventure), seOverflow’s team (Chris and Mike), and so many more — you’re the reason that Twitter IS a constant source of amusement, great info and real conversation. You’re the “social” in social media.

Allen K. – for dedicating his time to the a hugely successful year of Denver Tweetups. We’ve grown from 30-ish to 300-ish. Can’t wait for 2010!

Rick Bakas – for living the dream and embracing latitude…and for some pretty kickass St. Supery wine! I look forward to your 2010, man. Happy holidays and safe travels – Denver will miss you.

Cheryl Wallace – for enduring the pain and for wanting to be so much like me that you had to go and break your foot right after I messed up mine. And to Kate H. for loving you as she does. You both inspire me and I can’t wait to see you over New Years.

Ginger P. & Raquel F. – for being the most giving volunteers the Denver scene has ever seen. You’re bubbly, joy-filled and dammit, pretty to boot!

Doyle A. – we click. I get it. You get it. I thank you. You thank me. Let’s keep that up, shall we? (and you’ve got a kickass wingwoman in Terri, too!)

Andrew Hyde and the entire Ignite Boulder team – you do what others won’t and can’t. Thanks for a great year of Ignite Boulder and I look forward to 2010 and beyond. I fuckin’ love you guys. (Kathy, Larkin, Aaron, Ben…everyone!)

Cara – I’m lucky to have reconnected with you after so many years. You’re beautiful, talented, and so damn funny that there are plenty of days you should write my columns instead of me. Thanks for a great year of DM hilarity and for jewelry that is an endless source of compliments.

Jackie C. – for reconnecting over Facebook and being the coolest Jr. High and High School drama coach evah. You said “vagina” on my Facebook page. This is the stuff or which memories are made.

Mike R. – the driest wit in copywriting I know. For awesome taste in music and your endless ability to suprrise and delight through words.

Paul and Sandy/ToyWithMe.com – you are, without a doubt, the most fun to work for. Thanks for finding me, hounding me, encouraging me and letting me do my thing each and every week. You’re the AA batteries in my toybox 😉

Todd Defren and the SHIFT team – crazy year, but you are the top of the tops. Thanks for the combined talents, individual tolerance, and proving that you’re worth every damn cent across the board.

Flying Dog, Rackhouse Pub, Mike’s Hard, Great Divide – for participating, donating, and encouraging hilarity and frolicking in the Denver community. You rule.

Snafu, Steve N., Cindiman & Amy, Meghan, Harlan – for enduring as kindred outdoor spirits and staying in touch though we’re miles apart.

Ryan – for never making me feel I have to be anyone other than myself and appreciating my collection of t-shirts with lewd sayings. And my f-bombs.

The entire staff at Boulder Indoor Cycling – for helping me spend a shitload of money on pursuing activities that involve a bike with one gear and no brakes.

My readers, commenters, subscribers, fans…without you, I’m a crazy lady with a keyboard.

Happy Kwanzihalloweenieasterfestivmas to everyone. If I didn’t mention you (and you know who you are), thank you as well.

Erika Napoletano (aka The Redhead)

Need and Want: the Holiday Edition

Need? Want?  Oh hell...Who knows?I want one of these. I want one of these, too. I wanna do this and this and can’t wait until it’s cold enough for me to do this.

The good news? I’m getting the second one and the fourth is inevitable. When I make up my damn mind about the first, the third won’t be far behind. Kinda cool how it will all come together.

I really suck at having patience. Growing up, my mom gave me a magnet that said, “Lord, give me patience but I want it right now!” It clung to the refrigerator for years – funny how my mother knew me to the core even when I was 7.

We’re a day away from the most gluttonous holiday of the year. We celebrate Tryptophan laced naps with the button of our jeans undone and green bean casserole made with nothing that could really be considered green beans. Dad asks when the turkey will be done and mom tells him to get his ass out of the kitchen. We need our families. We want the turkey. Without one, the other isn’t nearly so sweet.

So I said: Self, what is it you need?

I need to kick my own ass just a little bit more.

We improve at things by working with people who are flat-out better than we are. If we put away the jealously-wrapped- in-envy that they have something we want and start figuring our how to get it for ourselves…how much more useful would it be? I wonder why we go through life motivating ourselves with things that have nothing to do with us. It’s always for someone or something else.

At the end of the day, all that leaves us with is a pile of shit we thought we wanted. But we completely missed what we needed in the process.

It’s the way I view doping athletes. MLM marketers. Anyone who rates their business’ success based on revenue as opposed to personal fulfillment. You’re cheating yourself. Well, I can’t speak for you – I’ve cheated myself and it sucks.

Starting with me – that’s what I need. I don’t need a few beautiful bicycles but I need to ride. I don’t need a shiny new pair of BD Cobra ice tools but I need to climb. I don’t need to make millions – I just need to be happy doing what I do for a living.

While I sometimes feel the need to choke the living shit out of an asshat in front of me on the freeway, it’s more likely that I need to calm down.

As I go into a weekend filled with friends and things I love – I see that’s what I need. All those things I want – they’ll come. And if I set myself on the path of kicking my own ass a bit more, those things I want will be even sweeter when they cross my path.

Happy Turkey Day and apologies to the top buttons on jeans and pants everywhere.

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