Where the Fuck Have I Been?

Excellent question. Perhaps not one I’ll answer in this post (don’t know quite yet), but excellent nonetheless.

Under 30 seconds ago, I hit a select-all-DELETE on the blog post I’d written yesterday. Which means here I am, two lines into a fresh post not really knowing how this is all going to turn out.

I wonder what’s going to happen when I put some words together? LET’S SEE.

Not so long ago, I shared one of my new headshots for acting on my Facebook page. In case you don’t subscribe to that bit of social whimsy, here it is for your consideration:



I’d recently lightened my hair back to its natural color after nearly a decade of it a rather fierce (and I felt awesomely spunky) share of deep red. I’d also been in need of headshots that were less pretty and more gritty, hence, the recent photo shoot.

After posting this, I found this message in my Facebook “other” messages from someone who follows the page:

Wow, your new headshot makes you look a lot older. I liked the other better with the black dress. So much prettier!!! You are prettier then that picture!!

Erika Napoletano actor

First, I’m sure this person meant well. Secondly, I’m confident that this is an example of the road to hell being paved with good intentions…mixed with shards of glass (for a stronger road, of course) as blood makes an excellent binding agent. I don’t know this for sure, but I can only imagine that some don’t know (myself included) the sharp, unrefined edges of our well-meaning words.

After going through the requisite 18.73 minutes of feeling like shit and wishing someone would photoshop the worst parts of me away and why the fuck did I just bother to lose 10 pounds and on top of that, gee — thanks for making me wish that I’d been impaled by a rhinoceros on the way to my photo shoot because a bloody picture of me in a swank black dress would surely have been better than me with a tad of cosmetics sitting on a stool in a pair of jeans I HAVEN’T BEEN ABLE TO WEAR IN A YEAR….

I realized what I really felt.

It’s not my job to be pretty.

It’s my job to tell the truth.

And this image of me tells nothing but the truth.

I remember exactly what my photographer had said to me before this photo was taken.

I remember exactly how it made me feel — something so visceral that the camera couldn’t NOT capture it.

I remember thinking the first time I saw this photo in my proofs, “Jesus. Oh man. Shit just got real.”

And I also remember thinking, “I don’t look very pretty.”

And that’s the truth.

I don’t.

But 100% of what’s going on in this photo is honest and real.

It’s unphotoshopped and 100% me — something we’re not too used to seeing in this world where photoshop creates more new people than accidental pregnancies.

That’s where I’ve been: doing my job.

Telling the truth. Because that’s my fucking job.

And I have someone whom I don’t even know who sent me a message on Facebook offering a compliment erring on the left-hand side to thank for helping me realize where the fuck I’ve been.

Where have you been?

The truth isn’t always pretty. Oftentimes, it’s the thing we want to hear least from the people we love most. Others, it’s what we say when we’re caught of guard or simply in the act of being ourselves before we have that chance to switch that “censor” switch on for the day to survive the world outside.

And I’ve been so wrapped up in DOING that I’ve neglected to write about doing and thinking and feeling and…well…anything.

I enjoy being unpretty. Messy.

Not having to leave the house with makeup on or have the perfectly constructed blog post filled with all the right keywords to garner a gazillion shares.

I enjoy seeing folks unsubscribe because they realized this community isn’t where they want to be or that maybe I’m a bit too close to raw for their tastes or because they realize I don’t share their same religious or political inclinations (which makes me laugh, as even I can find something of value on FOX News on occasion).

I love the feeling of seeing someone in one of my keynote sessions fidget a bit or avoid eye contact because I’ve said the ONE THING that hits too close to their current MAJOR MALFUNCTION (because it’s probably one of my current or former major malfunctions which is why I’m talking about it in the first place).

I love hearing a client explode with a sigh of relief when we’ve figured out how to STOP wasting their time and money by focusing on shit that is actually honest to where they want to go and the business they want to build and that The Joneses are no one worth keeping up with.

But most importantly, I love waking up each day and telling the truth — with my body, my words, my work.

Because it’s one thing to live a good life.

It’s another adventure entirely to live one doing my job — which is telling the truth.

Welcome back. Leave a comment (or reply to your blog email) with how you’ve been doing and what’s great in your life. And if you dare, tell me ONE THING you’ve realized to be true lately. I might do something with our collective truths. (winky face)


Tags: ,
Love it? Get more (digital) Erika.

or subscribe the
old fashioned way

51 replies
  1. philgerb
    philgerb says:

    What’s true for me? I spend a lot of time marketing. A lot of time doing the work. And too much time not making the world a better place, because I let organizations get off easy. I focus on tactics and strategy, which go together like peas and carrots, and not enough time on quality work – which is the protein that really powers an organization.
    To more protein and less busy work. To raw and true and really good work – not just checking the box and saying we did it.
    Welcome back.

  2. TracyLynnBarbour
    TracyLynnBarbour says:

    I’m doing great. I wrote you a while back about what was going on in my life, first time I have every done that. Then shit got real. Like, really real and I exploded under the pressure of a full time day job that ends of making me hate myself and everyone around me. So I decided to resign. Yep, today, I’m resigning and then shit is really going to get real. What’s great in my life? I have no idea what is going to happen next. The only thing I know is I’m going to make it work and get real, and be authentic. What’s true lately? That there is no one else like me. That and shit just got real.

  3. BigGirlBranding
    BigGirlBranding says:

    I happen to love that photo. And we don’t share political or religious views. I’m cool with that, we share kindred spirits. Haters gonna hate no matter what. #truth
    Don’t cater to the hate.

  4. DaveSoucy
    DaveSoucy says:

    “The Joneses are no one worth keeping up with.”

    Put that shit right there on a plaque. 

    And if you want to talk not pretty, two days ago I shaved my head as part of a charity event to raise money for childhood cancer research. I’m 49 years old have always had a lot of hair. Sometimes though, there are more important things than being pretty.

  5. DickCarlson
    DickCarlson says:

    What’s great in my life is that I had a heart attack three years ago.  This helped me to see that one more promotion, another set of stock options, or a slightly more expensive house wouldn’t make my life better.  We now live in a big RV and work at campgrounds.  I get to drive John Deere lawn tractors, just like I did when I was a little boy.  My one thing I’ve found to be true lately? It’s really, really fun to just talk to people without trying to sell them anything.

  6. Jim McDonald
    Jim McDonald says:

    First, I love the new picture. Just about any woman can be “pretty” with the application of makeup. You, however, are beautiful just as you are, with a minimum of makeup. The pic with the slinky black dress is a great one, it shows one side of you, the silly, happy side. This pic shows a more serious, or contemplative side. And I, for one, thank you for sharing it.
    Now, one thing I’ve realized lately to be true is that you are never too old to enjoy life. At an age that many have either retired or are contemplating it, including many of my high school classmates, I opted to sell my house, move to Germany, take an entirely new job, and travel throughout Europe in my spare time!
    Keep on telling the truth. It’s sexy as hell!

  7. geneblack
    geneblack says:

    First off, I want to know ” exactly what my photographer had said to me before this photo was taken”
    Secondly, I think you look amazing AND real! 

    The truth is, I am getting older – and it shows. It is not something I planned on and I don’t love looking like “an old man” but there it is.  I colored my hair for a play I am in and I like it. Ha! I sometimes photoshop pictures of myself.  But, I am okay with all my lines and wrinkles.  I think they let people know I have lived!
    As for that commenter – sheesh – stuff it in the sh–can where it belongs.

  8. StephanieForsyth
    StephanieForsyth says:

    “You’d be prettier if you smiled more.” That’s the one that kills me. Being subjected to a bizarre obsession to make women smile 100% of the time, as though we have nothing to be serious/stern/angry/etc about. As if our sole purpose in life is to sit and be pretty for the viewing of others. Kudos to you for Fucking working!

  9. Tekee
    Tekee says:

    I can only surmise that the comment was made by someone who hasn’t met you in person. While I can say first hand that you certainly clean up nicely, this picture represents the Erika I know and love. Let me put it this way, “Looking good, Billy Ray!”

  10. BerniXiong
    BerniXiong says:

    Fucking love you then (photoshopped pretty) and even more today (imperfect and even more beautiful). For me, you’ve always been honest and real; that’s why I stay out here 🙂 congrats on all your amazing work and breakthroughs.

    KRISZTA says:

    First of all. This is a BADASS picture!!!

    Secondly. I teach my clients to try to be real on their photo shoots and not “their best self”, because they are not cover models, they are entrepreneurs. If they have perfect make-up, hair and photoshop on their head, that’s bad for their personal brand. Because the first time, when they meet someone in real life, the other person will still be looking for that perfectly composed person they saw on the picture. It’s instant disappointment. 
    I see lots of 50 something business women photoshopped to 20s something beauties on their profile pictures. And when they post a selfie… Ummm… This person is not THAT person.

    My mother is not the nicest person, but she might had a point in this conversation of ours 20 years ago:
    Me: – Oh, I look ugly in this picture.
    Her: – At least it’s lifelike.


  12. ron2ron
    ron2ron says:

    I would never unsubscribe. When I sign up or join something it’s for life. Anything you say or blog could not offend me. I’ve been married to a red head for 37 years, I can take it  and probably agree with your observations in this half crazy world. If not I’ll let you know about it and we can throw what ever we might not agree on back and forth. But I can already tell your my kind of person…. that’s why I’m here. The truth is the best….. you look great, very pretty.

  13. KellyTwigger
    KellyTwigger says:

    Ha.  You look as amazing as you are, and who the hell cares anyway?  A pretty face does nothing for me if it doesn’t have some substance to go with it, and your substance kicks ass. Do tell what you did to get into those jeans, because I could use that!

  14. Amyah
    Amyah says:

    Oh! Gosh Erika! You ARE pretty, VERY pretty! Maybe not smiley on this picture but I like the intensity of your gaze… and you look fabulous in those jeans! As for your hair, I love the shade… (did I say I have similar color?)

    I love too your way of writing, your sharp expressions… and the way you sharply hit the point with your words… and I love also that you see yourself as you are and that, there too, you are truthful… and make us think too.

    One thing I realized to be true lately? A bit similar to you… I am me and I deserve to be me fully, completely. I don’t have to live my life for others (who finally do what ever they want with their lives and don’t care too much about my emotions)… neither than through others. I might not be pretty or as slim as I would like (darn hormones), I might love my solitary writer’s life, I am not a social butterfly and I love my green smoothies… So, I recently decided to be me, myself and I… fully and gracefully… to start a new life of thinking about me (more often), to do what I love (and not what others want me to love), and finally be happy.

    All this thanks to people like you who makes me realize that me too, I worth it!

    Thank you, beautiful Erika!

  15. TammyHorner
    TammyHorner says:

    I love the headshot! I understand about backhanded compliments – if I want someone’s opinion on how and when I do things, I’ll ask them. I’m 55 years old and I have to say there are good and bad things about it. The great thing is I don’t care anymore what someone thinks. I usually say whatever the hell I want to and sometimes I’m even diplomatic about it. What I am working on is getting older and accepting the fact that I can’t do what I used to. I have health issues that sometimes limit me and I get very frustrated. My significant other is very pragmatic about things, and reminds me that it’s tough shit if I can’t run around all day and multitask. He constantly reminds me that just because my minds feels like I’m still in my 30s, I am in my mid-50s and to face the reality of it. I’m getting there, albeit slowly. 

    I love your blog because you cut through the crap and talk about the reality of who we are, where we’re going, etc.

  16. DowntownMimi
    DowntownMimi says:

    My first thought when I saw your new photo is that you’re so much cuter than your old ‘posed’ self, and more ‘relatable.’ My second thought was, “I want to get more real in MY photo!” Great post!

  17. MightyCaseyMedia
    MightyCaseyMedia says:

    First, totally ferocious picture. Beautiful in its truth.

    My inconvenient, or suddenly-hit-me-in-the-head-like-a-flung-octopus, truth? I can only matter if nothing matters to me but the mission. IOW, if I worry about what some other jackwagon thinks of me, I’mma squander my opportunity to make something great happen.

    Oh, and what I’m up to? Working with a very dedicated, and sneaky-powerful, group of people to etch in stone (or at least in 50 state laws) that PEOPLE (commonly called “patients”) own their own medical records/data.

    Now, watch me build a motherfucking fire =)

  18. Jaime Lyerly
    Jaime Lyerly says:

    Yay to telling the truth! I’ll have some of that even if it is not pretty. 

    I have come to the realize that I have had roles that are not fitting of my gifts, and so I am letting people down by not doing what they want me to do. I haven’t been telling the truth to myself about these jobs and roles, and that is the hardest thing to see. So now I have to clean up the messes I have made by avoiding the confrontation. I am not a VA doer. I am a strategist, activator. creator and teacher who has been pretending to be a quiet back-end task doer. That is not true for me. So now I need to figure out how to make it work with the clients I have.

  19. Michele_yc
    Michele_yc says:

    I have been reading your posts, newsletters, etc for years and this may be the first time I am commenting. i wanted you to know how much I enjoy your voice, attitude and outlook. I love the way you try to be honest and forthright and to tell it like it is. It’s not about ‘pretty’, it’s about living and being in your truth and being open about it – which is so crazy hard for most of us – but you are doing it and for that I really admire you. You take chances (acting!!!) and you say what you believe (brave!!!). Thank you Erika – I appreciate your voice, what you do and who you are. I will keep reading – please keep doing what you do.

  20. byronicwoman
    byronicwoman says:

    this weekend i binge-watched ‘doctor who’ – i’m a geek, so sue me.  anyway… when the matt smith doctor regenerates to the peter capaldi [silver fox] doctor, he looks in the mirror and comments on his unfamiliar appearance: “who frowned me this face?”

    sometimes i look at pictures of myself and i ask that very same question.  who the fuck frowned me this face?!  know what?  i fucking frowned me this face!  mine is the face i have worked for and earned over 40 years.  i have survived shit that would wilt most people.  i have had joys that would shatter others.  and this is the face that reflects that.

    yours is, too.  that fierceness in your eyes?  you earned that!  the age you “look” – older, younger, accurate?  earned! wearing your truth on the outside?  fucking earned!

    if that ain’t pretty to some folks, they either haven’t lived a very interesting life or don’t know anyone who has.  i wish for those people a life that forges a face that they have proudly earned.

    *drops mic and steps off soap box*

  21. Ike
    Ike says:

    I still don’t care what you look like. 

    – Are you upright?
    – Are you ambulatory?
    – Are you happy?
    – Are you still writing things that inspire and make me think?

    Okay. That is all.

    Welcome back. We will be here whenever. Because.  (And I am glad you’re happy…)

  22. Quarterto5
    Quarterto5 says:

    “Pretty”? Since when do you subscribe to such superficial bullshit that that would matter?

    I’d much rather focus on your intelligence, your wit, and your wisdom. But that’s just me.

    As for my truth – my life is a clusterfuck, and I’m frustrated that for the time being, it’s staying that way. I’m working on fixing it, bu unfortunately, it’s a process not a light switch. However, I absolutely need to start prioritizing better to make it happen.

  23. TaraSchiller
    TaraSchiller says:

    I love this photo of you. It’s more artistic in the way great art is. Sure there’s pretty landscape shots we all use for stick photos, but then they don’t move us. This photo is moving.
    I love that you’re about truth.

  24. BlairGlaser
    BlairGlaser says:

    Because you’re a theater person now — forgive me — I’m going to quote Sondheim on this one:

    Pretty isn’t beautiful 
    Pretty is what changes . . .
    The irony of course is that you are both beautiful and pretty in life and in that well-lit headshot. Yay to another chance to train that beautiful perfectly shaped ass of yours to ignore the ignorance of others —  and step more firmly into your badass self. 
    Welcome back, E!

  25. ErichCampbell
    ErichCampbell says:

    1 – You look confident in the picture, and that beats the heck out of ‘pretty’ any damn day of the year. 
    2 – It’s not a beauty contest- my prematurely bald self knows this well- I go *natural* in my profile pics as an expert in my industry, and I’ve caught a lot of crap over it, but I know I’m more confident/competent than the guy with the comb-over, so I don’t much worry about it.

    3 – I thought you looked great in the pic any way, not that it matters. You look like a strong person who means business, and the fineness of your features, while obviously present, isn’t the chief reason why I think it’s attractive and compelling.

  26. Paul Sikkema
    Paul Sikkema says:

    Well, I hope you change your header picture to the one where I see a beautiful redhead woman in jeans. And keep telling the truth – that’s why I read every word you write.

  27. JesseBussard
    JesseBussard says:

    I love that new headshot of you. Like you said it’s raw, no frills, just YOU. And to me there is nothing more beautiful than a person who fiercely themselves, completely and without any excuses.
    What I’ve realized to be true lately is how quality is always more important than quantity. That applies to relationships, work, friends, our personal pursuits, and even the amount of fun we have. In our society the “more, more, more” philosophy seems to run rampant. We never can seem to get enough work done, find enough time to spend with friends, family, and spouses, or enjoy our hobbies quite enough. We always seem to be grasping at straws for more. What I’ve realized though is this way of thinking ignores the beauty and power of the present moment. We’re so busy worrying about finding the time and doing more that we miss the amazing and wonderfully ordinary things happening right in front of us in this very moment. So I’m slowly teaching myself to let go of this need for more and concentrate on BEING HERE NOW and remembering that I don’t have to measure my life up to anyone else’s. My job is to do the best with what I’ve been given each and every moment. That’s all I can do and that’s ok. 🙂

  28. DanteBacani
    DanteBacani says:

    What’s great in my life = after 30+ years in Chicago, I’ll soon be moving to L.A.
    Something I’ve realized to be true = I’m going to be just fine…the future is bright (so much so that I gotta wear shades). 🙂

  29. JoelBeck
    JoelBeck says:

    My recent truth realization is that my world isn’t gonna change with something that I’m gonna do someday, but by what I actually do today.  I’ve gotten better recently at stopping procrastination, and just getting on with implementation of ideas and taking steps to reach some big goals.  This makes me busier than I want to be sometimes, but it’s all good.

    And, by the way, the new pic is good.

  30. MichelleGillies
    MichelleGillies says:

    I remember seeing that picture and at the time thinking, “Wow! Look how gorgeous she is when she’s just herself.” Your publicity shots that we see all the time are stunning but we all know that they are just that. Your public face. The one we all put on to do business. Your’s just happens to be eons above the rest. The fact that the photo above was shared with us is a true compliment to us that you allow us to see your true beautiful self.  
    My truth at the moment is that I feel like I am running out of time to be who I want to be and accomplish what I want to accomplish. I’m the one getting in my own way.

  31. Kristy Alagna
    Kristy Alagna says:

    ONE THING: my truth(s) does not have to be absolute, unchanging – that was only for others to keep up with me or categorize me for their own neat n’ tidy world. (visual: pat her on the head)

    2nd thing: I want one too!! an honest photo by an artist who captures my truth in that moment – please give me her/his name (I live in Chicago)

  32. jasonperrier
    jasonperrier says:

    First off I want to say you look awesome in your pic.  To me it is all in the eyes. 

    Right now I am doing great  – found a niche in this media world and working to expand it.  As well like you I have found someone to share my life with, someone who has their own life and it is great.  

    One truth I have realized that I am weak with my bad habits when I am alone – which is not good when I work as a freelancer but it is something that I have to work on.

  33. ReneeThronson
    ReneeThronson says:

    You ARE pretty and real in this photo.

    I’ve been trying to find a better job and working on developing my web sites.

    I’ve made some progress in my personal life…learning to set boundaries and stand up for myself. I’m a work in progress :]

    Love, love, love your blog and welcome back.

  34. FiredUpFemme
    FiredUpFemme says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your truths, Erika!  Today is my last day of final exams for the first quarter of school.  I’m considered a ‘mature’ student as I’m older than three of my instructors and most of the students are more than 10 years younger than me.  Going back to school at my age was difficult, but I made it through.  In the last two weeks, though, just before final exams, I sprained my ankle badly, broke a toe (on the same foot), came down with laryngitis, which then turned into bronchitis.  I’m giving a 20 minute presentation today and I hope I make it through without coughing and hacking my guts out!  

    The truth that I’ve discovered is that I’m fucking tough and I can handle anything, but most of my stress is brought upon myself.  What I need to realize is that I’ve got this, and to stop ruining my body with stress.  

    And what’s good in my life?  I have an amazing man who is my rock and has helped me out so much these last couple of weeks, and a chihuahua and a kitten that are constant fun.  

    Yours is the only blog I read on a regular basis.  I’ve missed you.  Welcome back.  

    P.S.  You’re beautiful in all of your photos.

  35. KatherineOwen01
    KatherineOwen01 says:

    I LOVE that picture of you. Love the hair! You’re rocking it. Congrats on the 10 pounds lighter look too. Just be you. That’s my truth. It’s yours too. ♥

  36. MeghanKeane
    MeghanKeane says:

    YESSSSS. To a fellow truth seeker, truth teller: Carry on. I stopped wearing make up and skirts in 2011 and haven’t looked back (that’s my version of this photo). It is a great road.

  37. MeghanKeane
    MeghanKeane says:

    And: you are absolutely pretty. You’re fucking badass beautiful. It takes a less conventional person to see through the conventional filter to appreciate the less conventionally appreciated quality of truth. That photo completely trumps the dress photo IMO. But, I’m a painter.. It’s my job to see through marketing pretty easily and hone in on truth like my visual life depends on it. Really enjoyed this post. Thank you very much for sharing. Best from Brooklyn, MK

  38. GitzItDone
    GitzItDone says:

    Just found your “Truths” while searching for images for something else…cool.

    Truth:  Happiness is a choice.  And sometimes I choose the dirty diaper instead, if only for a moment.  It may be stinky and uncomfortable, but damn if it ain’t familiar.

  39. lisamf
    lisamf says:

    Sitting here searching the internet for an answer that I know will not pop up in the search bar. But, I did come across your  site and your truths. I typed in ” why am I not  a happy  person?” as I get older, I find it  harder to hide my  life long unhappiness. I have always felt like something was missing in my life. like everyone else, I want the  normal “American dream life”  I mean that is what we are taught to want , so why shouldn’t I want it too.  I have 2 great  kids, 2 and 4, a wonderful husband, a house, a car, a job (that I hate) but grateful that I have it. Yet…..Life sucks! Being miserable all the time sucks! I am not depressed… I have been there… this is not that.. This is almost my personality, but I have never seen it before now. I have spent so much time acting happy that I think I allowed myself to act  happy enough to convince myself I was, but I am not. so now what?

  40. Todd Lyden
    Todd Lyden says:

    Truth: as much as we don’t WANT to have to care what people think about us, there are always at least moments when we HAVE to care- and that sort of sucks.
    The flip side of that is also TRUE: as much as folks want to not give a crap what others’ opinions are, they end up caring for some of the dumbest reasons in the world. 
    Find the right moments and the right reasons.


Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *