Heidi Isern

writer. thinker. whiskey drinker.


To write well you must be willing to go naked into the world.

-Daniel Keys Moran

After multiple wine sessions, friendly reviews, non-friendly reviews, and a handy “cliché-erasing” pen, my book proposal is nearly finished.  After another week of sober editing, I will hopefully deem it worthy to send out to agents.

In my progress I flirted with various themes that would tie the stories of different American women together.  (as a newfound recluse, flirting with ideas is my main source of foreplay so I flirted with as many ideas as I could).

One of the main themes that emerged is the power of understanding and believing in our core identity; allowing our spirit to shine as a beacon as we navigate the life’s confusing labyrinth.  To truly be ourselves and connect to other humans we need to let down our guard and take off our masks.  Yes, even on Halloween.

In and out of costume parties, I had spent years applying pancake layers on myself as a protective coating against the world’s thornier side.  My body was spackled with mistrust, judgment, and insensibility.  However as I drove across the United States a strange thing happened-I started to strip it all off.

As women blindly trusted me with their stories, I learned to blindly trust them as well.  As the women conveyed their love of life, I started to love mine.  As women wept in my arms, I too let tears flood down my face.

Mile by mile, interview by interview, I started to slowly shed the ugliness that I had let accumulate.  By the time I arrived back in San Francisco I was as raw as a newborn puppy.  There were no masks, there were no pretenses. There was just me.  Blissfully naked.

Although naked is a lovely place, it can also be quite frightening.  Without a coat of armor we are highly sensitized to emotion. Our bodies can pick up the smallest currents of love as well as the tiniest indicators of contempt and judgment.   Without barriers, we leap impulsively into other’s hearts like a naive child, not understanding that perhaps their hearts do not want to be leapt into.  Although deeper connections are possible, so is the risk of deeper hurt.

After a few weeks in my birthday suit, I started to long for my clothes, or at least a costume. I was ready to pretend to be someone else. I was afraid people eyed my new found openness as suspiciously as the image of Kim Kardashian, wearing nothing but silver spray paint.

Just as I was convinced that Miss Kardashian and I were the only participants in an emotional nudist colony, a strange thing happened.  I ran into my doctor in the locker room of my health club.   Not that long ago I had been spread out on her table as she confirmed my naked body was pristine.  However, in the locker room, she was now naked.   She undressed in front of me and told me about some of her frustrating days.  She looked down at my boxing gloves and wished she too had an option to battle aggression.  My doctor, no longer in a lab coat, was opening up to me.

The role reversal made me realize that perhaps there are more people willing to be naked than I thought.  Perhaps we can create a new emotional front, one that allows people to live unafraid of who they are or what they feel. We can all risk going against a sea of conformity and pretenses and open up to the world.  After all, even though everyone dresses up for Halloween, some of the best costumes are the ones that reveal the most.

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