You don’t realize how stale the air is until you open the windows and let the spring breeze in.

It reminds me of something Melissa Febos says in her memoir Abandon Me: some burdens can only be measured by their relief.  I’m sure there’s bigger a tie-in for that quote somewhere, but, for now I just let it simmer, hanging out in the smell of melting ice and shifting winds.

Spring has been shyly introducing itself over the past couple days, and it is through this thawing that I realize how stagnant I feel.

The reality is, I haven’t been stagnant.  I’ve been knee-deep in a new book release.  I’ve been wading through a corrective exercise course, one that simultaneously reaffirms what I’m doing and reminds me why I haven’t exactly signed on to become a physical therapist.  I’ve had my hands in a thousand different projects, from online classes to podcasts to fundraisers — I’ve been hosting get togethers and seeing friends and going to events.  It’s been a busy winter, a full winter.  I’ve been content in the busyness and, conversely, content in the downtime.

But in the thawing, something stirs.

I ache for mountains.  I ache for my old schedule, where gigantic swatches of the day were free.  I realize that while I’ve been busy and professional and aspiring, my wanderlust has been hibernating.  And I don’t realize how dormant it has been until it wakes back up again.

I don’t do well with feeling caged in, like snowbanks have impeded my path or the brutal winter winds have pushed the door shut.  To paraphrase Jeanette Winterson in Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal — yet another memoir, as I find an unquenchable thirst for women’s stories right now — I must have a toe in both worlds.  I’m the cat who’ll stay domestic so long as the door stays open.

And now the door to the back porch is open, complementing the windows, creating a cross breeze.  Air filters through the screens and the stagnancy of winter is shrugged off.

I stir in this warmth.  It makes me want to cancel classes and drive backroads to no where. There is so much to see and do and I am insatiable.  If I am but a portal for the universe to perceive itself, then I want to grab hold of as much of the universe as I can.

I ache, I ache, I ache.  My God, will there ever be a time when I’m not aching for adventure, when my soul isn’t tugging me to the one more spot on the horizon — just a little bit further; I need to see where this path goes after the bend.  I’m already planning trips in my mind — I want Quebec City for a long weekend, I want bungee jumping for my birthday.  Let’s make good on our promise to go to San Diego, to Miami, to Iceland.  Let’s visit a national park.  A spot on the Appalachian Trail.  A summit.  Two summits.  Let’s just get in the car and drive.  Vamonos, vamonos, vamonos.  Tengo una alma salvaje y un cuerpo energético.

My husband — the yin to my yang — loves this about me.  He loves my wild spirit, even if that wildness has proven to tear at the drapes and chew on the woodwork when left unchecked.  I pull him towards the sun and he keeps the wax in my wings from melting away.

The air awakens something in me and I become like the tulips eager to burst from the ground and bloom.

Yes, but remember what happens to impatient flowers who make their presence known before the last frost hits, I warn myself.  Sometimes I can be my own yin to the yang.  Sometimes.  And perhaps that why I stay in a region with such long winters: without hibernation, I would truly go feral, even with my husband and my ever-strengthening rational side keeping my Icarus below the stratosphere.

I’ve spent so long afraid of winter — fearing the darkness, the cold, the perpetual indoors — and this is the first year I’ve truly embraced it.  But one does not fully remember how inviting the ground is until the snow melts away.


I detour heavily after my morning class, Day 3 of this spring-like weather, the peak before the temperatures are due to drop again, before the rainfall hits.  I blast across roads with the windows down and the music up — my audiobook on pause, as if I don’t have it in me to listen to someone else’s words, someone else’s story right now.  I play songs that have somehow been imprinted with the serene drives home after my longer hikes.  I can practically taste the dried pineapple slices that I greedily ate up one afternoon as I navigated my way back to the highway.  I can feel the exact way I felt after returning to the trailhead: tired, satiated, temporarily tamed.

My to-do list is still heavy.  Your workload with a book doesn’t stop just because you’ve released it.  And I still have a few more chapters to read and a good amount of studying to do before I can take my exam and finish my course.  And then, of course, there are the afternoon classes — classes I wouldn’t dream of canceling, despite my wanderlust.  I’ve worked too hard to get them, to get to where I am now.

But for now I’m twisting down this small town roads — roads that were once imprinted with blazing, surreal anxiety, a time when I drove them because I just needed escape, I needed just one fleeting moment where the weight of everything wasn’t shattering my heart.  Roads that, when I finally got my head above water and put my foot down and let the dust finally clear, I actively took back, refusing to permanently give them up to the darkest time in my life.

Now they are back to what they were in the before: majestic, tranquil, exactly what I need to keep the feral side of me content for now.

Some ordeals can only be measured in how good it feels once they’re gone.

(…and there’s the bigger tie-in.)


The Day Has Come!

The day has come!  Now you too will know what to do in the event the flower girl explodes!

(…or, kinda.)

It’s been a long six years — from inception, to editing, to trying to get an agent’s attention, to my Kindle Scout campaign, to today: release day.



You can get both the paperback and ebook on Amazon (currently two separate pages, but they’ll merge any minute now).

So what is the book about?  In the Event the Flower Girl Explodes is a biting comedy about weddings, love, communication, and family. The book touches upon the subtle and all-too-real heartbreaks that happen when we attempt to protect those we love. The main character goes through obstacles that are familiar to every twenty-something struggling in the real world.

But, don’t take my word for it:

My Best Friend’s Wedding with a rainbow twist! From the first page, readers will be sucked into Nicole Winger’s world. Smart, funny, new-grad Nicole wrestles with territory all too familiar to twenty-somethings… An entertaining read for anyone who enjoys their black humor with a side of substance (and a little frill).”
-Sara DiVello, bestselling author, Where in the OM Am I? One Woman’s Journey from the Corporate World to the Yoga Mat

“Abby is a fresh, relatable voice,” – Carina Stikus, author of Grandma’s How-To List for Getting Through Life

In the Event the Flower Girl Explodes is an amazing coming of age story that truly captures the feelings that build when we don’t know how to communicate about them. It culminates in lessons learned and renewed faith in oneself,” — Sarah Woodard, author of Adri’s Big Dream

“You will read chapter after chapter without noticing it,” – Ruty B, critic, Reading, Dreaming

So… go buy it!  Or else you’ll never know what to do in the event the flower girl explodes!  (Or…something.)

Just Not-Bad Enough

As I quickly learned, cleaning out your closet feels a lot like digging something up.

I had long-ago dropped the former-teacher narrative: not the story of my time as an early education teacher, but the tale of my quitting of the field — and quitting far too late, when the burnout had left indelible grit under my nails and a lingering cough in my throat.  It had taken a few years, but eventually the radioactive dust from the fallout of quitting had dissipated and the air had cleared out again.

But something always lingered.  The gnawing guilt, simultaneously over leaving and over not leaving soon enough — because I didn’t stick it out, and because I stuck it out when the best thing I could’ve done was leave.  Like any wound that didn’t get a clean cut, it festered and reinfected and took years before it finally scarred over. Continue reading

Follow Your Bliss

I have this little notebook — one of those impulse purchases from Marshall’s or TJMaxx, one of their cute & quirky notebooks the aisle over from the cute & quirky household goods — with the words Follow Your Bliss on the front.  I can’t tell you exactly when I got it; only that it was sometime close to when I started getting comfortable teaching yoga, when I started teaching more specialty classes and workshops, and I wanted a notebook to devote to the cause.

The pages are already half-filled with notes.  Little pink post-it flags delineate the different topics, and over time the stickies have folded in on themselves.  Notes for potential workshops, revised notes for workshops I’m able to do multiple times — and redundant notes, for workshops that could never get off the ground.  In between all this is a small smattering of poetry that I must’ve written when other notebooks weren’t around, poetry that just makes me sad when I stumble across them in the present day. Continue reading

Too Strong for The Role

It was inspired by the influx of my childhood toys.

My childhood belongings.  Their exodus a complex story in and of itself, one that — like many other portions of my narrative — will someday get its moment in the spotlight after enough emotional distance has been established.  But, for now, we’ll skip to the end, with the final cargo of my past now delivered to our house, our guest room looking more like an adolescent’s bedroom mid-pack, and me bitterly musing to myself, “Fitting enough.  The ghost of my upbringing has been the perennial guest as of late, anyway.”

But, again, that’s a story for another day.  Like many stories of mine, when it’s time to be revealed, I will unapologetically give it the stage.

The role of my childhood belongings is that of an antagonist in this story.  The catalyst, the spark — riling up the part of me that realized it was time to clean out my closet.

(Insert another bitter, slightly amused musing here.)

The double-edged sword of a house is its space.  And in that space, things can accumulate.  Our one-bedroom apartment off the Orange Line in Boston didn’t grant us much clemency when it came to clutter, and our two-bedroom apartment that hugged the border of New Hampshire and Massachusetts didn’t relieve much, either.

But in this idyllic house in an area that straddles the border between civilization and the country, there is room.  Things can be moved and relegated and forgotten about.  There is no impetus to really clear out until you are given a household’s worth of your old belongings, and you find yourself closing the door to your guest bedroom, looking at the overflowing closet in your own bedroom, and going:

“Enough is enough.  It’s time to clear this out.”

I’m a hoarder by nature.  Not in the sense that I’ll collect do-dads and trinkets and refuse to throw out even the morning paper (that is, if we actually subscribed to a morning paper), but in the sense that I ascribe emotional sentiment to inanimate objects.  I keep mementos, as if the weight of memory is too much to keep in the ether and I must transfer it to something tangible.  Such a sentiment will make it impossible to get rid of old handbags that had been worn past the ability of being donated — but somehow have enough structural integrity to hold the years that it had been by my side.

(It will also make it impossible to, say, sort through your childhood belongings, let alone decide what should be saved, donated, or thrown out.  As if cracking open a box is like cracking open a heart — as if the cardboard boxes were something given to Pandora, filled with all the demons inside, rearing to get out.)

(But, again, more on that at a later date.)

Clothing is no different.  It can feel like the act of donating an old shirt is akin to donating the very memories attached to it.  It’s usually enough to make me look at my expanding wardrobe, sigh heavily, and refuse to do anything about it.

Unless, that is, you become inspired to finally clear it out.

The first things I honed in on were my clothes from my preschool teaching days.  Clothing that I bought specifically for the role of early childhood teacher, specifically to be worn in an early childhood classroom.  Baggy khakis and cotton shirts with cheery pastel colors.  Things I hadn’t worn since I put in my final resignation letter and left in a burned out glory, ashes trailing behind me.

I reminded myself that I will never wear these clothes again.  It’s been over five years, and I’ve yet to find a place for them outside of the classroom.  My professional wear is in stark contrast to the khaki pants these days, and the cheery tops look out of place in a night-out setting.

But I decided to give them one last wear — a last hurrah, if nothing else.

A lot has changed in five — going on six — years, and the changes manifest into the physical.  I now teach as many as 15 yoga & fitness classes a week.  I’ve taken up kickboxing and weight training.  I’ve upped the miles considerably on my runs and I’ve stopped joining martial art studios just to quit a month later.  I’ve put to bed the version of me who thought she was gangly and awkward in light of an inherent athleticism I swore I never had.

It’s the first thing I think about as I attempt to put on one of the pastel shirts.  I had bought this shirt when I was skin and bones, a lingering relic of my modeling years.  Now, the additional weight of muscle is far too apparent.  My shoulders are too broad.  I can barely move my arms.  My biceps press against the fabric when I try to bend my elbows.

“I’m too strong for this outfit,” I muse to myself, wryly, without a hint of bitterness.

The cleaning out of my closet becomes a purge.  My husband joins in, sorting through clothing he’s outgrown in one way or another.  Soon, our bed is an avalanche of clothes, and there’s still more to go.

I let the realization that I can’t even fit into most of my preschool clothes propel me forward, becoming merciless with what I cut from my wardrobe.  A lot of outfits from that time in my life find their way to the chopping block.  I toss impulse purchases that had proven to not survive the shimmer of retail therapy.  I toss clothing that served no purpose but emotional weight, reminding myself that sometimes it’s good to let certain mementos perish.

There’s a song in my head as I try on outfit after outfit — one from Maria Mena, the lyrics and the melody a lullably in and of itself:

Finally see the progress made in me, the hard work I’ve put in, the person I am
But you’re still involved with the old me, the baby, I don’t blame you, maybe
It’s because I still wear her clothes.
I’m wrapped in her role.

The metaphor is effortless.  I’m too strong for these old clothes, these old roles.  They have no place taking up space in my life anymore.  It’s time to clean out my closet and bid farewell to the past.

The line immediately following the previous stanza: But the path I am on is a different one.

I’ve grown stronger in ways I never could’ve predicted as a meek little preschool teacher, getting bullied around by higher ups, feeling powerless among her own peers, among the children sometimes.  I’ve grown stronger in ways I never could’ve predicted even a few years ago, especially when I was at my lowest and felt the insurmountable weight of it all, when I swore everything that was happening would inevitably crush me.

(But, again, stories for a later time, when enough emotional distance has been established.)

I’m getting stronger in the present day, even without that sense of urgency, that warning of, “get strong or die.”  Every day, something is a little more defined, and I become that much more determined to keep at it, to let nothing atrophy.

There are roles that won’t fit me even if I tried.  I would have no room to move my arms.  My strength would press against the edges.  These are outdated roles that I don’t even want to have around taking up space.  Even if they hold emotional weight, I’m through with them.  Clear it out and make way for things that will serve me better.

I wish I had taken before and after photos of our closet.  The walk-in went from overflowing to almost sparse, there were that many clothes to give away.

“The thrift store is going to love us,” I muse, warmly, thinking of the thrift store arm of a nonprofit in town, the good that they do, the good that our old clothes will hopefully help with.

In some weird way, I miss what the closet used to look like.  I don’t miss the clothes so much as I miss the sequence of them, which hadn’t changed since I first unpacked our apartment boxes and organized our clothes.  It’s strange, the things that will ping at us, as if we’re so much creatures of habit that we can’t handle when positive changes clears things out.

Of course Eminem’s “Cleaning Out My Closet” finds its way into my head — I’m not all sad, heavy songs with huge emotional undertones.  Much like the literal clearing out of my closet isn’t all heavy and triumphant.  I hum out, Cuz tonight, I’m cleanin’ out my closet with a slight amusement, calculating when I’ll have the time to drop off the boxes — perhaps another sign that I’m outgrowing certain roles, that I’ve used my time with the Enneagram to notice when I fall into ruts with sad songs and hurtful memories and to clear out for something new, something better.

Our cats love the boxes — which, ironically, stay stacked in our closet, taking out space, until I find the time to clear out my car and pack it back up.  Perhaps a reminder that you can’t just prepare to clear out: you have to actually go through with it and see it to the end.


Ohio feels like homecoming.

Ohio feels like road tripping, like twelve hours that go by in the blink of an eye — that is, at least, until we get onto 70.  Ohio feels like junk food and fast food and rest stops and philosophical discussions and the views of the valleys as we cut across Pennsylvania.  Ohio feels like telling people that you actually look forward to this, that there are few things you cherish quite like your road trips with your husband, or being with your in-laws for the holidays.

Ohio feels like waking up to crisp air and clear skies, to long and winding roads through wide open spaces.  Ohio feels like towns so small you could hold your breath as you drive from one end to the other. Continue reading

The New Book

I have no idea what it’ll be about, but I can feel it coming.

I can feel its rumble the same way you can feel a thunderstorm before it arrives. The air is electric.  The inevitable is on the horizon, and there is an exquisite anticipation.

I have no idea what the book will be about, and that’s the exciting part. The story is being coy, making its presence known but only in snippets and hints, like a child playing hide & seek, giggling madly behind the curtains, hoping to not be found but still shouting out clues when they think the adults have strayed too far. Continue reading