Almost every day this month, I’ve taken a little time to clear the clutter in one small area of my home—for example, my herbal tea shelf, where it was time to face the fact that for five years, no one has wanted a second cup of “Dry Desert Lime.”

Clearing clutter involves peering into dark and dusty corners. For a few horrified minutes, I thought I had uncovered a dead bird rotting behind the recycle bin in my pantry—until I shone a flashlight on the clump of mildewed feathers, spotted a string coming out of its rear, and realized it was actually an abandoned cat toy.

Shed the old, make room for the new—it’s a common yearning as another year ends. The line of cars at my local Goodwill drop-off stretches down the block, filled with people eager to pass on outgrown baby clothes and kitchen gadgets that aren’t as useful as they appeared in the infomercial. For those with the privilege of plenty, it’s a good time to chant the letting-go mantra coined by dharma teacher and radio commentator Wes Nisker: “Enough! Enough! We’ve got enough stuff!”

And it’s good to practice on the small things. If I can release the bag of bread flour with a sell-by date in the Obama years and the turquoise jacket I wore just twice during the book tour for my first novel, then maybe I can loosen my clutch on some bigger things—compulsions, fears, clingings, regrets.

For every one of you, I know the past year has held both heartbreak and happiness. As we come to the end of 2023 together, I hope that each of you is able to release what you most want to let go of, enjoy any freedom that brings you, and use that freed-up energy to help make our world a kinder place.