Heidi Isern

writer. thinker. whiskey drinker.

Why You Can’t Fall in Love Like You Want To

“I just want to fall in love,” he said. “Nothing beats holiday romance.” Charlie blasted ‘Baby it’s cold outside’ from his new Amazon Echo while sipping mulled wine. “I just hope love happens to me so I can Fa la la la with someone.” It was November 24th and Charlie was already playing Christmas love ballads. In another week he’d put on Love Actually, secretly hoping a Midwestern model would

Continue reading…

Five Things I am NOT Thankful For

During Thanksgiving the internet will be crowded with saccharine odes of gratitude. Well, not from me. There is plenty NOT to be thankful for and I’d like to address it. 1. Cellulite It is the gift that keeps giving… people a complex. When I was in my 20’s a beautiful 40-something women told me, “Appreciate your tight skin now, because, trust me, as you get older, things start to loosen

Continue reading…

How to Survive a Red-Blue Thanksgiving

This election isn’t just dividing the nation into red and blue color maps-it’s fracturing families along party lines, just in time for the holidays. Many of my friends in San Francisco are dreading Thanksgiving, usually a time of family merriment and togetherness. Why? Many of the city’s “liberal elite” originally hail from those American red counties that tipped the electoral college to a Trump victory. My liberal minded friends are

Continue reading…

The One Thing to Save (ALL) Your Relationships

Communication is the most critical ingredient of any type of relationship. Yet today’s world has so much noise that we have all forgotten how to listen. “Yep, yep. Got it. Great. Yep. Yep,” he said. I was telling Toby my latest family crisis at warp speed, covering each detail as if it could be a secret clue to a buried treasure. Toby was a great multi tasker. His mouth could

Continue reading…

Gut Feeling? 4 Reasons NOT to Listen to It

“Just listen to your gut,” popular wisdom says. Hell, I’ve even said it myself.Your heart may lead you astray and your head could hold you back, right? But sometimes our gut is dead wrong. Like the time it told me the habanero-fired burrito at 1am was a great idea. So when do we listen and when do we tell it to shut the hell up? It’s first useful to understand

Continue reading…

Has Tech Killed Art in San Francisco?

My city, San Francisco, is one of the world’s smartest and wealthiest cities. Its concrete seams are bursting with tech dollars, Python code and every imaginable type of logoed hoodie. I’m thrilled to be surrounded by such innovation and easy fashion. Yet I am saddened that San Francisco’s promise of lucrative startup exits have created such a high cost of living that its artists can no longer work and live

Continue reading…

50 Shades of Ambiguity: Why the ‘Gray Zone’ is Good For You

‘Embrace Ambiguity’ is one of my design firm’s seven core values. It’s the one value I used to secretly wish we could hogtie and gag. Yes, I wanted to torture ambiguity like it tortured me — you know, draw and quarter it into four understandable chunks. Why? Because I was a domineering mistress. AKA a control freak. There, I said it. I liked knowing when things would be done, how they would

Continue reading…

Tell Fear to F*ck Off-4 Ways to Jumpstart a New Life

“I love her, but I’m too afraid to tell her in case she laughs.” “My real dream is to be a chef, but I’m afraid of starting over at 39.” “I have this idea…..but I’m so afraid it just won’t work.” All these were quotes I pulled from Scaredy Cats Anonymous, a dimly lit place where people release their qualms and take shots of courage to make a leap forward

Continue reading…

Why You Can’t Make Your Relationship Last

“Stop writing about finding a relationship,” he told me. “That’s the easy part. Write about how to keep one.” My friend John was a 40-year-old serial monogamist. He couldn’t make a relationship last even though he aspired to find a woman he could “have passionate sex with until he was 85.” Yet he was on his 15th girlfriend, unsure of her long-term viability. Most people say they would cut off

Continue reading…

Quantity or Quality? My Blogging Struggle

I’ve let my readers down this week. My usual Wednesday post, ‘humpdayheidi’ is on a 7 day hiatus and it’s killing me. Writers aren’t supposed to take breaks, are they? They are the entrepreneurs of words, working 26 hour days and taking out second mortgages so that they can pursue their passion. I thought I was such an artist, sacrificing for my craft. You see, in March I decided to

Continue reading…

My Family’s Gay Indian Montana Wedding

“In my wildest dreams, I never thought I’d be going to a gay wedding,” said my uncle. “I didn’t even know what gay meant as a kid,” said my dad. “In college the term gay just meant being happy. We’d say we had a gay ol’ time.” My uncle chuckled. “Well, guess we’re about to have another one.” We all loaded ourselves in trucks to go to a garden spot

Continue reading…

How to Survive Loss, Without Losing Yourself

“There is an art to missing,” said an old man in Nice as he took a sip of wine. Red droplets hung from his mustache while he told me about his lost wife, his amour de la vie. The french translation of “I miss you” is “tu me manques” which literally is “you are missing from me.” But I was too young then. I didn’t understand what missing meant. Since

Continue reading…

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

Continue reading…

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

Continue reading…

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

Continue reading…

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

Continue reading…

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.

Continue reading…

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

Continue reading…

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

Continue reading…

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

Continue reading…