Heidi Isern

writer. thinker. whiskey drinker.

Books that Change the Course of Our Lives

“Books change people’s destinies.” – Carlos Maria Dominguez, The House of Paper Good books have a way of getting into your bloodstream. They become a homeopathic treatment, imprinting new thoughts into your molecules, changing the core of who you are and what you seek. The right books cause us to love deeper, travel more, take risks, end things, start things, and redo things. A 140 character count tweet won’t alter

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Age 40 – Half Dead or Just Starting?

I must regretfully inform the public that it is the last year of my 30’s. I just turned THIRTY NINE. I used to think this was the time I would go over the hill, roll down and die. Although Instagram’s filters smooth my wrinkles into youthful smiles, I can’t fool anyone. I’m not a millennial. I’m part of the lost generation that is stuck somewhere between X and Y. I’m

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Why Feeling Like You’re Not Enough ….Is More Than Enough

There’s a trend with accomplished high achievers. Mistakes haunt us like banshees and we never feel like we are good enough. Hating ourselves can be motivating (fail fast, move forward faster?) but can also debilitate us. Sometimes I wallow in a well of self disgust so deep that I cannot climb out to brush my own teeth. Apparently, there are a lot of other ‘well dwellers’ out there too. I

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How to Stop Feeling Like You’re Underwater — Life Tips from Pros and Ducks

“I feel like I’m drowning,” a friend told me. “The more I try to accomplish the more buckets of stuff get dumped on my head. How the hell is everyone else coping with life?” It’s hard to shake the feeling that everyone is managing to stay afloat while the rest of us gasp for air. I get it. I live in San Francisco where overachieving is the status quo. People

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A Critique on Critique: How to Use it, How to Lose it.

“Are you ready to get torn to shreds?” I was asked. “Um…I think so,” I said. “Good. Then maybe you have a shot of being something.” A marketing expert was offering his editorial ‘guidance,’ aka critique. I’ve been dealing with critique my entire life. From writing workshops to company design reviews to my old cello teacher’s dismay at my Vivaldi renditions, I was always told I could do much better.

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Wanna Be Interesting? Write in a Bar

Kafka was wrong. He once said that writing is “utter solitude, the descent into the cold abyss of oneself.” If this were true, no one would write because they’d be too busy committing suicide to connect with their keyboard. At some point, you do have to chain yourself to your desk to type out the words that have been marinating in your mind. But that’s not the main part of

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Why Don’t We Listen to our Gut?

  “Don’t listen to your heart. It will lead you down painful paths,” an old gypsy once told me, reading the fractured love lines in my palm. “Don’t listen to your mind. Its calculations will turn you cold,” commented an investment banker, showcasing his ringless hand. “Listen to your gut,” said a trusted colleague. “It always knows.” Does it? I was given ‘gut advice’ many years ago when deciding to

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Choice-Make One and Don’t Look Back

“Should I quit my job to travel?” asked a reader. “Definitely travel,” I replied. Like most people, I only dole out advice that justifies my own life choices. “I just don’t know what I’ll regret more,” she said. “Not preparing for a promotion or not taking time off for adventure.” She later reported that she had constructed an excel spreadsheet of pros and cons and the final count revealed that

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3 of the Best Life Lessons Learned from Dad

1. Don’t Talk, Plant a Tree Dad isn’t a big talker. When I call home, Mom and I gab for 56 minutes straight before she passes the phone to Dad for his 4 minute end cap. Dad, as usual, is engrossed in a Mariner’s game. “How’s them Mariners?” I ask. I know nothing about baseball. “Good,” he says. Silence ensues. We scramble for words, improvising topics as we go. Should

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When Lying is Better Than Truth

Last week, I lied to all of you. Ok, I didn’t lie. But I certainly didn’t share the whole truth, which is almost the same thing. An old friend pointed this out to me while we were catching up downtown. “Heidi, what the hell was going on in your last post?” Like any good friend, he knows when I’m not telling the “whole truth.” A glass of wine had loosened

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The Naked Truth of Getting Older

As a woman, I’m not supposed to like getting older. Society tells us that most of our worth is tied to our youthful looks. This generates a sense of panic among 30 something dating, all of us hoping to lock down a mate before we hit our expiration date. “Warning: Best Before 40.” Who knows what piles of mush we will become after that? Amy Schumer cleverly defined this cut-off

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The Talk No One Wants to Have

“It’s time we have the talk,” I said. “What talk?” Michael asked, knowing exactly what talk I was referring to. “You know, the Define the Relationship Talk.” He groaned. This talk, better knows as the DTR, carries more trepidation than going to your annual check-up right after a bachelorette weekend in Vegas. However, this particular DTR had nothing to do with romance. Michael was my client. He’d been leading me

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Good Naked vs. Bad Naked

“The thing you don’t realize is that there is Good Naked and there is Bad Naked. Naked hair brushing-good. Naked crouching-bad.” In this Seinfeld episode, Jerry dates a nudist and quickly realizes that naked can have a dark side. For example: crouching over the countertop while nude, eating a pastrami sandwich. Vulnerability is the new naked. The trendy topic, fueled by Brené Brown’swork, encourages us to open up and connect

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Open Up, Close More Deals

“Don’t cry at work. If you are upset, go home and cry in the shower.” This was the advice I once gave a female colleague when she was going through a hard time, leaking tears all over our Excel spreadsheets. It was 2006 and we were climbing the management consulting ladder. To be successful, I felt we should come to the office with both our suits and emotions steam pressed.

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Leaving Perfection – A Poem

“I thought I did everything right in life,” he said gripping his hair in his palms. “An ivy league school, a high profile job, the pedigreed woman. All gone. What happened? How the hell did I fall down the rabbit hole and end up here?” Here? Well, HERE is the best place to be! Take my hand You good-hearted man I’ll lead you completely astray Through tangled vine gardens And

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To Fall Out of Love, Do This.

“I want love on demand,” she said. My friend Sophia was going through another hard breakup, hoping to sedate her pain. “Take it away when it hurts, but deliver it when desired, straight to my door.” If only love were like Instacart. Last year the New York Times published an article that claimed answering 36 questions could make two people fall madly in love. All you needed was 50 minutes,

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Why He Won’t Marry You

Every spring romance beckons. Flowers bloom, lovebirds croon, and Facebook feeds sparkle with the diamonds of recent engagements. Marriage anxiety infiltrates the city, reducing our best citizens to jittery jello as they wonder when their number will be called. Men feel pressured to pop “the question.” Women feel pressured to have the question popped. Rightly or wrongly, the idea that someone will choose usfor the rest of our lives shapes

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Jump off the Career Ladder, Save Your Life

Our inboxes are constantly bombarded with LinkedIn status updates, asking us to congratulate our peers. However panic, not pride, is often the first reaction. “I should have been promoted to VP like the rest of my MBA class,” a man in an outdated suit lamented. “Had I not moved cities for my wife and took a lesser post.” “And I should have made Partner by now,” said the woman to

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The Happiness Gamble: Settle or Hold Out?

A bizarre phenomena happens when urban Americans approach their mid 30s. A frantic mob of women in white lace rush through our cities, clamoring for the altar before it is “too late.” The casual observer may mistake them for a panicked stampede of white sheep rushing over a cliff. A few black sheep hang out by the sidelines, unsure of what to do. We don’t want to be left alone,

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Why You Cannot Find “The One”

** This post originally appeared on Medium and is being discussed there. If you want the juicy comments, highlights and rants, I suggest you follow me on Medium. But if you’re too lazy you can read my original text below. Unedited as always.** “Write about the search,” he said. “That’s what’s fucking killing everyone.” “The search?” Did he mean finding a new rent controlled apartment that wasn’t possessed by fruit flies? Or

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