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Kolina Cicero
author | reader | mother | kolinacicero.com/book
Photo by Anton Ponomarenko on Unsplash

Springtime is the prototypical unveiling of transformation. You can’t step outside without each of your senses seeking out the changes that took hold during winter. Daffodils bloom so dramatically their stems bend with weight, apple trees explode with kaleidoscopic arrangements of pinks and purples, the sun bursts to set all of this growth in motion.

And people transform too. This year especially. People are leaving their homes and establishments are populating again, and everybody has a chance at revealing their transformations. As I considered my own evolution, I found myself feeling a little stagnant. What’s my big reveal going to…


A simple process for work and for life

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While flipping through a recent issue of The Atlantic, I landed on an article called How Civilization Broke our Brains: What can hunter-gatherer societies teach us about work, time, and happiness? It featured a drawing of a man in a hammock surrounded by lush greenery and blue skies. It’s idyllic at first glance. But a closer look reveals the man is lurching out of the hammock as he looks up at the phone-, envelope-, and other work-shaped clouds closing in on him.

The article explores the tension between the productivity mind and the leisure mind, pointing out that our hunter-gatherer…


An honest look at the indie publishing process

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On July 15, 2020, I released my first children’s book, Rosie and the Hobby Farm. I indie published it, which means I paid a publishing company for professional services like editing, design, and general consulting to help me create a beautiful, high-quality book. The company is considered the publisher instead of me (if I self-published, I would be considered the publisher), which leads, in my opinion, to more credibility.

I have learned so much throughout this process, much of which I wish I would have known before starting this journey.

Let’s get right into it. Here are 10 things I…


On not being a perfectionist in a world teeming with them

Photo by Klara Kulikova on Unsplash

My husband taught me something about flowers recently. Geranium, he told me, is a fault in wine. We were discussing the floral scent and had agreed that we both liked it. It’s lovely — it’s sweet and punchy and smells like a sun-drenched field pierced with bright crimson petals. But it signifies an unwanted reaction during the winemaking process. In other words, when you get a taste of geranium, you know something didn’t work the way it was supposed to.

Perfectionism is a geranium. Its optics are gorgeous, illuminated by a halo of grit, strength, and flawlessness. But perfectionism can…


And how you can say the same about 2021

As one is wont to do this time of year, I’ve been reflecting on everything I accomplished, what I didn’t achieve but hoped to, and how I can do better next year.

Yes, 2020 was an absolute shitstorm. But — and I realize the privilege that comes with this statement —it was a good year for me. I didn’t lose anybody I love (though I did lose my job), my and my family’s wellbeing have not been put on the line, and I’ve had the most productive year since graduate school.

I won’t bore you with a comprehensive tally of…


On surrendering and healing this season

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It was the winter of 1991. My aquamarine bib snow pants were strapped onto my shoulders and bunched over my boots, my coat barely zipped up over my sweater. I was Ralphie’s brother from A Christmas Story. The snow was piled up higher than my head, and in the backyard, I kept getting stuck as I tried to cross the boreal terrain. My nose was cold and I was too warm under my layered winter gear, but it was a delight to partake in this, Minnesota’s famous Halloween Blizzard. Everybody has a story about it.

Ask any ’80s kid and…


Tips from a high-functioning anxious person that actually work

Photo by Masaaki Komori on Unsplash

Anxiety is a snowflake. Everyone’s brand is different from everybody else’s, even if the side effects are, in many ways, the same. And right now, it’s snowing all over the world.

Some form of anxiety or another has been an intimate friend of mine for just over a decade. It’s not a relationship I covet, but it’s one I’ve come to terms with having, and this acceptance has helped me cope with my reality.

Unfortunately, I am not alone in the anxious camp. The National Alliance on Mental Illness reports that over 40 million adults in the U.S. …


Inspiration to keep working hard

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I wrote a little story once.

I shared it with a couple of friends. They liked it.

I shared it with a couple more friends. They liked it, too.

I decided I liked my story enough to pursue publishing.

I submitted it to Chronicle Books. Unsurprisingly, they never got back to me.

I began to research indie publishing.

I decided that, though indie publishing is a lot of work and money, I liked my story enough to do it.

I signed on with Wise Ink Creative Publishing.

I worked with an editor on the manuscript.

I worked with an illustrator…


From Ferrante to Rooney, these are the sentences that stuck with me this year

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If you were to flip through any one of the hundreds of books on my shelf, you’d see that I destruct them. The more beat up they are, the more I loved them. I underline, star, write notes, and dog-ear lines in my books whenever they make me pause, which could be for any number of reasons. It could be that they’re skillfully done, they evoke an emotion that’s surprising to me, they paint an unusual picture, or simply that they are beautiful.

I flipped through the books I read this year and chose the 20 most beautiful sentences I…


There is still time to make it a good year

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

With one month left of the year, it’s easy to call it done and get ready to make 2021 a better year. But there’s still an entire month left. A month is plenty of time to turn things around and redeem 2020.

I have some ideas.

Give

Christmas is looming and for many, it’s a hard season to endure. This year will probably be even tougher than normal, given that many of us won’t be spending it with our families. Since the holidays are going to look different this year, I think it’s a better year than ever to give. Give…

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