Want a Fresh Start in the New Year? Clean out Your Closet

A collective, electric feeling sweeps the world on January 1—a new year has come, a chance for a fresh start full of magic and possibility. On one particular New Year’s Eve, I found the perfect opportunity to make space for manifesting my dreams in the new year: my closet.

It took my five younger sisters visiting me over the holidays, and digging through my clothes with manic enthusiasm, to realize I was in the perfect time and place to begin making space for the new year. Where better to start than the messiest area of my house (and my life!)? I dove headfirst into my closet.

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Apparently, teenagers really, really like to rummage through piles of clothes (who knew?)! I don't know exactly how it happened but all of a sudden, we were all sitting on my bed, sorting every item of my closet into a "Yes" and a "No" pile. The "No" pile became…

“Goodbye, an extremely embarrassing amount of yoga pants.” “Goodbye, hippie dresses permanently stained with festival mud.” “Goodbye, jeans I haven't worn since 2010.”

I used to have a hard time getting rid of clothes, but not this time around. It just felt so liberating. Easy. Necessary, even. And having five grateful sisters ready to rock my old rags made it feel like I wasn't throwing things away, but merely passing things on for new adventures to be had.

I can't remember the last time I cleaned out my closet. The feeling is one of a kind. I know it's just a closet, but I felt lighter—like something was lifted. I could breathe easier.

So, I didn't stop there. From my closet I moved to the bathroom, where I found out Dennis only owns 3 items of bathroom products. Three. Literally. After picking out the weird hair powder a very metrosexual man picked out for him at a salon in San Francisco, the nose hair trimmer I made him get before our wedding, and an old Clinique cologne I don't think he ever used in his life, I realized every single one of the giant drawers full of products in there were mine.

I ended up getting rid of an entire moving box of stuff: old shampoo, makeup, body lotions... So often I keep products in the bathroom thinking, "I'll use this as soon as I run out of this other stuff that I really like." Of course, I never end up doing that, meaning I owned 11 different kinds of shower gels. No person needs 11 different kinds of shower gels. It's not normal!

Companies often send me products that I never use but don't want to throw away, and it was while cleaning out my bathroom I realized I'd stumbled across the perfect Christmas gifts. I gave my friends beautiful little sets of organic body butters and scrubs, essential oil perfumes and a whole bunch of other stuff that was cramping my bathroom shelves.

Now, our bathroom is spacious and organized—Dennis even has his own little shelf for his (3) things. Actually, that little shelf was so sad looking I had to get him a man-set for Christmas with his very first real facial wash, scrub and moisturizer.

I'm happy to say he actually loved it! Maybe, a little too much... A few days after I gifted him his new set, he walked past me down the stairs, gave me a kiss on the cheek and swiftly turned around asking, "Have you been using MY moisturizer???" Apparently, I smelled suspiciously of man product. I have since promised to stick to my own shelf.

Still on the high I got from cleaning out our entire bathroom, I continued throughout the rest of the house. All of the drawers in the hallway are now neatly organized, our fridge is more spacious than it's been since we moved in, cabinets full of sheets and towels have been reassembled, our kitchen shelves got a makeover... I even got rid of most of my shoes and handbags.

I know—what on earth was going on? All I know is that for every drawer I organized, for every dusty old box I cleaned out, for every item I threw away that had lost its importance, I felt like I was letting something go, something big. It's like all of these things had been weighing me down without my even noticing; old stuff lurking around and things, things, just things everywhere, filling me with heaviness and slowing me down.

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Of course, I'd been crying a lot, too. You can't get rid of that much material stuff and not get rid of some intense emotional stuff, too. But I felt it in my entire being: it's time to let go and start fresh.

On January 1, I cut all of my bracelets off. All of them. Twenty-seven, to be exact. I took my 8 rings off my fingers, too. My necklace. Anklets. Even my toe rings. I wrote a long post about it on Instagram, but the short story is some of those bracelets I'd worn for years and years and some of them meant a whole lot to me. “Snip snip,” said the scissor, and off they went. It wasn't easy, but it was vital.

I honestly don't know what came over me, but since I started with that first drawer of yoga pants, I simply didn’t stop cleaning out areas of my life.

For instance, our Christmas decorations are now perfectly categorized, wrapped in newspapers and neatly stashed away in boxes in the storage room. Knowing me, this is some very strange behavior. For one, we normally keep our tree up until, say, February. And taking down Christmas decorations usually means I just throw everything together in a frenzy, leaving a giant mess for next year's Rachel to handle. The thing is, next year's Rachel is NEVER any better at handling the detangling of Christmas lights than this year's Rachel. Never. Except... Now?! Apparently, this new Rachel is great at this kind of stuff!?

Present Rachel is leaving a beautiful display of decorations, candle holders, Santa statues, tinsel and red wrapping paper for Future Rachel to unpack when the next December comes knocking. I'm actually excited for next Christmas and opening those boxes to find Monica Geller-like tidiness!

It's weird. And still I didn't stop there.

I have since cleaned out all of my social media accounts, organized our finances and even started letting go of a few people in my life that had been giving me bad vibes. Love is a two-way street. How many people do you have in your life that are of real, true value? You are only as good as the people you surround yourself with. Are the people you interact with lifting you up daily, or are they bringing you down? Find the difference.

For me, once I started evaluating relationships, close and distant, I found that I was keeping a lot of people in my life just out of habit. But I'm done. I don't need to be friends with absolutely everyone. I need to be friends with myself. Last year was a year of turbulence, of high highs and low lows.

This year is the year to move forward, to start fresh, and above all, it's a year for love. A year to truly take care of ourselves. Our energies are just as—if not more—important as our bodies.

So, ask yourself this: What am I holding onto that is no longer serving me?

Start with small things and move forward from there.

While cleaning out my life that day, my decision was this: if it doesn't bring me joy, I need to let it go.

It doesn't mean I have to be mean and tell a person off or ask for forgiveness and change—you can let go of people without them needing to know. Sometimes we let go of things or people just to find them back in our lives a while later, but with a different, more positive energy. Sometimes letting go means finding something different, of more value, along the way. Sometimes letting go means realizing you weren't even holding on in the first place. But, most of the time...

Letting go just means choosing to be free.

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Know this: releasing old things from our lives is an active process—it doesn't happen by itself. I started with yoga pants and shoes, but I moved on to relationships and old habits, where real change truly lies.

My resolution for the new year was to create balance, but right now the mantra that keeps repeating itself in my head is something entirely different: LET IT GO. Let it go. Let it go! Perhaps, in the process of letting go, balance will come.

I hope you find what you're looking for this year. I hope we all do. If you’re seeking more inspiration, I talked more on my podcast about setting New Year intentions and added a guided meditation, and I wrote out how I journal to get clear on my intentions in a blog post.

I'll leave you with this most important truth that came to me on that first and most difficult day of the year, while I cleaned out my closet and my whole life: Letting go means releasing the pain, not the love. Love stays. Pain leaves.

Don't forget it.

On that note, let's create space for new, magical experiences to manifest themselves this year!! Your fresh start begins right N O W. Tell me how you’re creating space for it below!

X,

Rachel

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