Heidi Isern

writer. thinker. whiskey drinker.

Tall and Small Tales

(originally published on Medium at @hisern)

Life Happened. So We Delivered in a VW

The plan wasn’t to deliver a baby in the backseat of the car. The plan was to have a calm, low intervention birth at the same hospital we had done our prenatal care. But like many things in our lives, convention didn’t seem to matter…and the outcome was something more amazing than we could have imagined. Homeward Bound, Oct 1st “We need more time…” I told my partner, Gideon. We had

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How to Give ‘Real Time Feedback’ Without Being a Jerk

“Oh, do I have some feedback for YOU,” Donna said. Donna had just been promoted to manager at a beverage firm and felt it was time to wield her managerial power. She was ready to tell her direct report, Jon, how he was messing up in ‘real time’. Jon, you see, had accidentally copied the wrong people on an email chain and also misspelled the word “extemporaneous”. Donna couldn’t wait

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Unplanned pregnancies to poor performance reviews…what we reveal at work

To tell or not to tell….. 3 days before I was slated to sign my new job offer letter I had a positive pregnancy test. Would revealing this early be a wise or just weird? After all, this wasn’t exactly an anticipated pregnancy in a stable marriage (or um, any marriage). And my new job offer wasn’t with a large corporation with pillows of maternity leave, but with a nimble

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‘Knocked Up’?! How I embraced a non-linear life…

“I’m hoping this is a false alarm.” I texted the positive test results to my cousin. “Holy Shit!” was her immediate response. But it wasn’t a false alarm. I was pregnant. I was pregnant, not married, in an uncertain relationship, and just started a demanding new job that regularly took me out of my comfort zone. Now, my whole life had catapulted out of my comfort zone. It’s no coincidence

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Two Words to Increase Your Happiness

My life resembles a Jerry Springer show. In the past few months there have been love triangles, confusing betrayals, and severe illness. I’m not sure how to make sense of it all. Yet, as tantalizing as the details may seem, what happened to me is actually irrelevant. All that matters is how I choose to dealwith what happened. I wake up this morning and say a brief ode to my

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How Writing Weekly on Medium Changed My Life

One year ago I gave myself a challenge to post one blog post each week on Medium. Why? I wanted to see if this writing hobby of mine had any merit. Nothing better than a self imposed rule with the hashtag #humpdayheidi. With friend and family encouragement, I published a new piece every Wednesday. My weekends, previously spent having far flung adventures with a glass of whisky, were now devoted

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Why You Should Give Your Lover an Onion

While Shelly was single she was always jealous of the coupled-ups that posted their romantic evenings on Instagram every February 14th. Love, the ‘head-over-heels, roll-down-the-hill kinda love’, was all she wanted out of life. Every night before she went to bed she fantasized of the perfect Valentine’s Day when she would finally have a boyfriend to be ‘head-over-heels’ with. Perhaps there would be an intimate dinner at a five star

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Women Need to Date Carpenters Like Men Date Yoga Instructors

Every woman I know in San Francisco says the same thing. “He has to be this much taller and make this much more money. I mean, I’m tall and successful, so he should be MORE tall and successful. I’m WORTH IT, right?” Worth what? Someone ‘better’ than you? Men never say things like that. They don’t want “more” and in many cases they prefer “less.” (less success = less complications…)

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Why You Can’t Find the One: Part 2

Nine months ago I wrote a post that went more viral than a Trump Tweet. It was covered by four publications and seen by over a million readers, all interested in understanding one thing — “Why You Can’t Find the One.” Since then I’ve received hundreds of letters, messages and tweets from people begging for help with searches for the “One.” Young, old, married, single, straight, gay, male, female, Christian, Muslim, Jewish,

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How a Powder Day Threatened my Friendship

It was a powder day in Tahoe. For ski aficionados a dusting of fresh powder means you drop the rest of your life to get on the mountain. That day we had more than dust. It was four feet of white smoke. I left my Truckee house without making coffee, greedy for frosty adrenaline. This girl didn’t need caffeine. If I were alone I would have skied all day, not

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Do We Do it For Love or Money?

I always wondered if the size of a woman’s diamond ring was inversely proportional to her marital happiness. Perhaps I’m jealous. Or perhaps I’ve finally decided a simple left hand leads to greater life satisfaction. But I wasn’t always this way… Manhattan 2004 A group of handsome men walked into the crowded bar, their eyes scouring young ladies’ necklines along with the scotch brands on the top shelf. I eagerly preened

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Wanna be happy? Screw the resolutions.

For many, January 1st marks a new beginning. For others, it is just an arbitrary date fate throws on our calendar to remind us to conquer…something. We are encouraged to get thinner, be happier, secure a relationship, find a new job, accomplish something, anything, before 352 days go by and it’s Judgment Day. Again. Our society clings to a notion of having everything all figured out within a set time

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What People REALLY Want for Christmas

In early December I polled my community to ask them a simple question. If you could give any “thing” to anyone for Christmas, what would it be and why? If you are looking for inspiration, read below. There are 4 days to get your gift under the tree. However, what most people long to give is something that cannot be wrapped. What I’d like to give…. No canceled flights for

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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