Cleaning House: Making Room for a New Year

The Chinese have a beautiful tradition for Spring Festival, or Chinese New Year. Each family cleans their house thoroughly before the end of the year. In mopping, dusting, and sweeping every nook and cranny, the old energy of the previous year is cleared away, and there is space for the new. On the first day of the new year (according to the Chinese lunar calendar), everyone wears new clothes, symbolizing a new beginning.

Hangzhou 杭州

As with many Chinese traditions and practices, I fell in love and integrated this one.   I’ve been cleaning out my phone of old voicemails, old texts, and apps I no longer use.  I’m going through clothes I no longer want or need. I’ve also done the unthinkable–my primary Gmail account is 98% full, so by necessity, I’m slowly making my way through 11,000+ emails (had the account since the dawn of gmail in 2005).  This tradition, like my numerous moves around the world, invites me to keep that which is valuable and let go of the rest.

Imagine the Impossible

While clearing out the physical of old receipts and trinkets, I’m also making space for the new in mind, body, and soul.  I’m waving goodbye to old ideas and ways of being.  I’m reflecting on what I accomplished this past year, in the 2 years I’ve been in SF, and in the 10 years since I graduated high school. I’m remembering those that passed this year like my Grandmother, my high school classmate, and a man in my group of China friends.  I’m letting go.

As for the New Year, I’m not a particular fan of New Year’s Resolutions because they sound so intense and ominous.  Moreover, most people don’t stick to them.  Instead, I like to think about New Year Possibilities.  What is in my heart? What do I want to see?  Where do I want to go? Who do I want to meet? What adventure is next?

What adventures lie beyond?

There are a lot of ideas about what 2012 will be and won’t. Call me a dreamer, but I believe 2012 will be one of humanity’s best.

Many blessings to you and yours in 2012! My wish for each and every one of you:

Join the discussion 29 Comments

  • Jacqueline,

    This is a lovely post all the way around. I agree with you. I find the beginning of a new year a fresh start and a time for renewal. I hope with all my heart you are right about 2012. Wishing you a happy, healthy new year, Margie

  • Cleaning out the old sounds like a great exercise for the end of the year. Hope you have huge blessings in 2012, my friend!

  • Klextin says:

    New Years possiblities instead of resolutions…Pure genuis! thank you so much for a different and wonderful perspective

  • Emily He says:

    I love the idea of New Years Possibilities! Particularly because I’m one who struggles to fulfill my resolutions.

    Good luck to you! I hope you’re off to a wonderful start! 🙂

    • Jacqueline says:

      Thanks Emily! I guess resolutions have their place, but they seem somewhat old school, and I associate them with heavy words like “duty,” and I also don’t tend to keep them. I have noticed, however, that when I put up New Year’s Possibilities and Choices, I do accomplish them. On the list this year? Travel. Musical Performances. Web TV Show. Adventure! What about you?

  • Devina says:

    Hi Jacqueline!
    I’ve never celebrated Chinese New Year but the festival has always interested me. I like how the Chinese begin the year, on a new slate, with cleaning the clutter of the one before and the new clothes. With the lions and dragons scaring away mischievous spirits and in my part of the world we have enough fire crackers and with music so loud that it would scare any evil spirit!

    Have a happy, prosperous and fulfilling new year! 🙂

    • Jacqueline says:

      Thanks so much for your comment, Devina! What part of the world are you in? How do you celebrate the New Year? Wishing you many blessings in 2012!

      • Devina says:

        I’m from Guyana, that’s in South America. We normally ring in the new year with lots of music which many people prefer to play at max volume so it’s no where near quiet and parties, neighbours go visiting each other and join in the celebration and that’s about it, or at least in my area, nothing much.

        This is a totally random question but have you ever seen Mulan? It’s a beautiful Disney movie, a cartoon one, set in China before the modern era I think. I loved it so much I watched it till
        you could see the tracks on DVD !

      • Devina says:

        @ Jacqueline:Sounds like a lot of fun! I have seen Mulan, and I really enjoyed it. What did you like most about it?

        Well, if I had to choose … it would be the fact that Mulan cared so much about her father and her longing to prove herself that she did the unthinkable and took his place. Also the part when she was finally getting a hang of the training, it shows that you can be a girl and fight like a man when you have the courage, determination and faith. And … bare with me, the part when Mushu bit Ling’s(I think it was him) butt! Hilarious!

  • Luca Ricci says:

    Ciao Jackie! All the best wishes for this 2012, I am too so positive about this year, I know it’s gonna make a change, somehow.
    Keep on being as inspirational as you have been in 2011!

    • Jacqueline says:

      Ciao Luca! You too! I think 2012 will. All my best to you! Hopefully 2012 will give us a chance to meet up in person somewhere in the world! Let’s make it happen! 🙂

  • l0ve0utl0ud says:

    Great post – I did the same – cleaning my house, clearing out old things etc. I didn’t have time to do everything before the start of the New Year, but it has started a clearing out and letting go process. Happy New Year to you!

    • Jacqueline says:

      Awesome! High five! I took 5 bags to Good Will yesterday. Still more to clean out, but like you said it’s starting the clearing out and letting go process. All my best to you in 2012!

  • Jessica says:

    I love the idea of starting over again. Typically, that phrase has been used in a negative connotation, but when I hear it, I’m filled with excitement. I think that is why God divided time into days and nights. He knew we needed thousands of new beginnings.

  • Cassandra says:

    A new year’s clear-out is a great idea. I agree that New Year’s Resolutions have lost their shine – they so often go unfulfilled. But I do think this is a natural time to prompt reflection about one’s life. I always review and refresh my goals around new year (and many times throughout the year) but I prefer to call them new year’s EVolutions, as I think gradual, well-considered change is more enduring than sudden, drastic change

    • Jacqueline says:

      I absolutely agree, Cassandra! That is a great way to look at it: “New Year’s Evolutions.” I really like that! With every new year, I also reflect and think about what I want in the upcoming year, but to your point, I continue to do it throughout the year. Like you said, we evolve. What we wanted or thought was in our best good in January may or may not apply in July. As a friend posted recently: “I love the idea of starting over again. Typically, that phrase has been used in a negative connotation, but when I hear it, I’m filled with excitement. I think that is why God divided time into days and nights. He knew we needed thousands of new beginnings.”

  • angrygaijin says:

    Happy New Years!

    Thanks for keeping up with my blog these past weeks… I must admit I’m still getting the hang of keeping up with all the blogs I want to read, but today I revamped my email filter settings and followed your comment back here~

    I like that cleaning idea. It makes me think of the “spring cleaning” tradition back home. Beautiful pictures of China too. Good job moving on and growing. 🙂

    This year, I’m going to put more faith and positive energy into my relationships.

    • Jacqueline says:

      Happy New Year to you as well! And thanks for visiting! Your last post was BAM–hilarious. I like your goal of putting more faith and positive energy into your relationships—sounds great! Let me know how it goes. Happy 2012!

  • miq says:

    I need to revisit this post next year so I can clean out the old and make room for the new.

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