10 Things You Should Definitely Toss Before The New Year Rolls Around
I’m not sure if it’s because I don’t do holidays, I am a Rosh Hashanah observer or what, but I really do find it fascinating (sometimes even funny), that right when November pops up, so many folks will make these grand declarations about all of the things that they are going to do…after New Year’s Day. So…you’re going to wait two whole months, as if tomorrow is guaranteed, to make big changes in your life? Doesn’t that sound more like procrastination more than anything? I mean, why not start right now? Like…right now.
More or less, that’s what this article is about. In the spirit of seizing the day and also in honor of those who may put stock into the turn of a calendar year, here 10 things that, by getting rid of them, you can feel lighter, more focused and ready for your new season — whether to you, that is tomorrow, next week or yes, January 1, 2022 (sounds crazy to say, doesn’t it? Whew, chile!).
1. Expired Stuff
There is nothing like buying some canned goods, telling yourself that you’re going to use them, and then when you finally get around to it, you realize that because they were put way back in the back of your pantry, they now are totally expired (le sigh). Y’all, I don’t care if it’s food (including spices), make-up, sunscreen, medicine, tea bags (yes, tea expires; the only food that doesn’t is honey), eyeglasses (get your annual exam; lens prescriptions can also expire); motor oil; paint or batteries — if it had an expiration date on it when you bought it, check it now to see if it’s expired or not. If it is, it’s not going to benefit you on any level at this point, so it’s time to let it go.
2. Certain Streaming Apps
Recently, I was teasing a friend of mine who, a couple of years ago, tried to be slightly high ‘n mighty about the fact that, while I still had cable, she had “downsized” to streaming apps. As we were comparing notes on how that’s been going, she is now paying about $75 more than what my monthly bill is. Listen, I know that the pandemic’s lockdown had us all thinking that we were going to watch more television than ever but, looking back, is that even really true? As grandpa used to say (on loop), money doesn’t grow on trees and there’s no point in wasting money on streaming apps that you only barely watch, right? Cut some of those subscriptions so that you can put those coins to much better use.
3. Clothes (and Shoes) You Haven’t Worn in 1.5 Years
OK, most interior designers, stylists, and professional organizers will say that if you haven’t worn something within a calendar year, you need to either donate it, sell it or toss it. I know that most of us aren’t going to do that which is why I extended a grace period of six more months. I’m about to actually do some getting rid of things in a couple of weeks, not because I don’t adore all of my fashion investments but because I treat my closets like I do my weight — when something doesn’t fit anymore (my body or in my closet), that’s my cue to do some transitioning.
Besides, from a lot of the studies that I’ve read, Americans only wear about 18 percent of what’s in their wardrobe. So, why keep holding onto things that you haven’t worn in three years now, just because you like them? Hell, if that was true, you’d be wearing it all more often. Yeah…it’s time to move on.
4. The Old Make-Up in Your Bathroom Drawer
Although I’m not a huge make-up wearer, a sistah does adore some mascara and lip color (the lip thing is totally out of control!). And I must admit that back in the day, I didn’t change my mascara as often as I should have (which needs to happen every 2-3 months). Honestly, I’ve got some lipstick that has far exceeded its shelf life at this point too (those are supposed to be swapped out every six months or so). We’ve all got a cosmetics drawer; it’s a rite of passage for women. One day, put on some of your favorite music and clean yours out. I promise you that you’ve got something lingering in there that your skin has been ready (past ready) for you to get rid of. If you need a bit of a cheat sheet on what to do, check out “When Should You Replace Underwear, Make-Up, Bedding, Washcloths & Towels?”.
5. Memorabilia from Your Ex
Pardon the pun but I’m still unpacking why so many of us like to keep things from our ex (or exes). I mean, I get that some memories are precious but if something is truly over, I’m not sure how much holding on to memorabilia is going to help any of us to move fully forward. I mean, isn’t the fact that most of our past is on social media, so it’s not like we can’t hop onto a site and catch up on their world in 10 minutes or less (please try and keep that down to a minimum, by the way)? That said, if things ended well and clean and you can look back with peace and closure, I guess a pic or two isn’t too bad.
Yet if there’s a part of you that is still hanging on (when he is not) or you are close to tears every time you look at that birthday card that he got you two years ago, sis, stop torturing yourself. Things carry a certain amount of energy. Clear out the power of things that are holding you hostage on an emotional level so that you can get some fresh and new life into your space.
6. Unnecessary Social Media (and Emails)
Earlier this year, Google mail told me that my box was about to be full (do you know many emails you’ve got to have for that to happen?!). When I went to investigate what was up, I was still holding onto Facebook messages and notifications, and chile, I haven’t been on there in close to 15 years at this point. Once I cleared a few thousand of those out and then got rid of some of my promotional emails and old emails from folks I don’t interact with anymore, Google stopped sending me those warnings. Paper trails are wise to a point, even in social media and email form.
At the same time, you know there’s stuff that you’ve got that you absolutely don’t need anymore. It’s gonna be a bit of a headache to go through all of that stuff yet one day, while watching a movie, do it. I promise that seeing those numbers of unread (or not dealt with) emails and unfollowing some folks who either are out of your algorithm at this point or who bring nothing beneficial to your life will cause you to feel so much better.
7. Stuff That Makes You Busy but Isn’t Really Productive
A word that I have spent a lot of 2020 and 2021 trying to use a whole lot less is “busy.” While there is no solid right or wrong here, to me, it just sounds kind of pretentious to tell someone that I can’t do something due to how busy I am. I think a part of the reason why I feel that way is because I wholeheartedly believe that none of us are too "busy” to do something; we simply prioritize what we want to do. That said, what I also believe is sometimes we can get caught up in stuff that doesn’t really help us out, one way or another. For instance, there are a couple of clients who I’ve reduced the amount of time that I spend with them. Why? Because they are super cyclic and so, even though they pay me, it’s starting to become a waste of my time to be as invested in them as I’ve been when there are other people who are more serious about hitting certain relational goals.
Also, when it comes to writing opportunities that are presented to me, I’m more thoughtful about what I agree to do. I’ve been writing for 21 years now. I’m by no means a novice and so, not everything is a “great opportunity,” just because it’s pitched that way. Stuff has to honor my purpose, my time, and my mental and emotional bandwidth. If it doesn’t, more and more these days, it’s gotta go.
Before the calendar year ends, do some processing in this lane. If there is something or someone who is keeping you busy yet you know it or they are not really productive in the long run, at the very least, reduce the time that you are spending on it or with them. We all only get 24 hours and life is shorter than we think it is. It’s important that we are as productive as possible. This brings me to my next point.
8. Whatever Drains You Without Benefiting You
When something or someone benefits you, they are advantageous. Some synonyms for that word include helpful, worthwhile and for your best (FOR YOUR BEST). On the flip side, when something or someone drains you, they deplete you of your resources and/or energy. I’m pretty sure I don’t have to tell you how important it is to be responsible with both of those items. You know, over the past couple of years, I’ve had to make some somewhat challenging decisions to release people who drain me because I know that my energy is my life source and spending a lot of time caught up in their drama, their manipulation, or even just their selfishness was depleting me of what I needed in order to manifest certain goals and aspirations.
Just like being busy can be really counterproductive, being drained can be such a waste. Sis, only you know what people, places, things, and ideas are taking more than they’re giving. Now is just as good of a time as any to shift some of those things out of your way — too.
9. Your Grudges
A writer by the name of Sherrilyn Kenyon once said, “Grudges seldom hurt anyone but the one bearing them.” Agreed. That said, one of my favorite takeaways from this year is that generalizations oftentimes stem from pure bitterness (check out “Ever Wonder What It Means To Be Bitter? The Answer Might Surprise You.”). It might be a bit of “red pill thinking” (or maybe just a good dose of spiritual enlightenment) but I really don't get how people think it's empowering to hold grudges and refuse to forgive other people.
Now am I all for setting up some boundaries and making sure that you learn from the experiences that put you in the position to hold any grudge and struggle with unforgivingness in the first place? 1000 times 1000 percent. All I’m saying is, there’s a really huge possibility that no one is really losing sleep over your grudge than you. And so keeping it is such a waste of that precious energy that I was just talking about; energy that could be directed into something (or someone) that will make you see that getting past the grudge is far better than holding onto it.
That stuff in the trunk of your car. Old condiments and plastic utensils from fast food spots. Books you haven’t looked at in five years. Magazines. CDs and DVDs. Lawd, those plastic bags that are underneath your kitchen sink. Containers that no longer have a lid. Hangers that have lost their shape. Junk jewelry. Office supplies. That nasty ass loofah (you know those are supposed to be replaced once a month, right?). I’m sure that I’ve named at least one thing that you know you’ve got that you also know needs to be tossed into the trash.
By definition, junk is “anything that is regarded as worthless, meaningless, or contemptible; trash.” Basically, junk is clutter. It’s physical clutter that can oftentimes trigger mental and emotional clutter. Why keep something that is worthless? Before 2022 creeps up on you, get that junk out of your space so that you can relax so much easier. Amen? Hallelujah, chile!
Featured image by Getty Images
After being a regular contributor for about four years and being (eh hem) MIA in 2022, Shellie is back penning for the platform (did you miss her? LOL).
In some ways, nothing has changed and in others, everything has. For now, she'll just say that she's working on the 20th anniversary edition of her first book, she's in school to take life coaching to another level and she's putting together a platform that supports and encourages Black men because she loves them from head to toe.
Other than that, she still works with couples, she's still a doula, she's still not on social media and her email contact (firstname.lastname@example.org) still hasn't changed (neither has her request to contact her ONLY for personal reasons; pitch to the platform if you have story ideas).
Life is a funny thing but if you stay calm, moments can come full circle and this is one of them. No doubt about it.
On set inside of a mid-city Los Angeles studio, it’s all eyes on Chlöe. She slightly shifts her body against a dark backdrop amidst camera clicks and whirs, giving a seductive pout here, and piercing eye contact there. Her chocolate locs are adorned with a few jewels that she requested to spice up the look, and on her shoulders rests a jeweled piece that she asked to be turned around to better showcase her neck (“I feel a bit old,” she said of the original direction). Her shapely figure is tucked into a strapless bodysuit with a deep v-neck that complements her décolletage.
Though subtle, her quiet wardrobe directives give the air of a woman who’s been here before, and certainly knows what she’s doing. At 24 years young, she’s a “Bossy” chick in training— one who’s politely unapologetic and learning the power of her own voice.
“I'm hesitant sometimes to truly speak my mind and speak up for myself and what I believe,” she later confessed to me a couple of weeks after the photoshoot. “It's always scary for me, but now I'm realizing that I have to, in order to gain respect as a Black woman— a young Black woman— who's still navigating who she is. And you know, I'm realizing that closed mouths don't get fed. And if I keep my mouth shut just because I'm afraid of what people's opinions of me will be or turn into, then that's not any way to live.”
For Chlöe, the journey into womanhood is about embracing who she is, without succumbing to the perceptions of what others think of her. From the waist up she’s everything you’d imagine. A gorgeous goddess with the kind of sex appeal that some work hard to embrace but fail to exude. But unbeknownst to anyone not on set, her bottom half is covered by a white robe, surprising coming from the girl who boasts “'Cause my booty so big, Lord, have mercy” on her first hit single “Have Mercy.”
But that’s the beauty of Chlöe. There’s more to her than meets the eye. More than what a few sensual photos sprinkled throughout an Instagram feed could ever tell you. Just like the photo-framing illusion of her portrayed from the waist up, what we know about the songstress is just the tip of the iceberg. There’s so much more beneath the surface.
Some hours later Chlöe leans back in a high chair as her locs are transformed from a formal updo to a seemingly Basquiat-inspired one. It’s pure art, and at her request, no wigs are a part of the day’s ensemble. She’s fully embracing her natural hair, a decision that wasn’t always a socially accepted one.
In the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia, (Mableton, to be exact) Chlöe began to explore the foundation of her self-image. At an early age she and her younger sister, Halle, demonstrated a vocal prowess and knack for being in front of the camera that caught their parents’ attention. Soon after, they were sent on a parade of local talent shows and auditions, and eventually broke into the digital space with song covers on YouTube.
It was during these early years that Chlöe first learned that the entertainment industry could be unforgiving to those who didn’t fit a particular beauty standard. Despite the then three-year-old snagging a role as the younger version of Beyoncé’s character, Lilly, in Fighting Temptations, casting agents requested that her natural locs be exchanged for more Eurocentric tresses. Ironic, considering that growing up Chlöe saw her hair as no different than that of her peers. “I remember specifically in pre-K we had to do self-portraits and I drew myself with a regular straight ponytail, like how I would put my locs in a ponytail,” she says. “I just never saw myself any different.”
Chlöe would also learn the true meaning of a phrase that would later become an affirmation posted on her bedroom mirror: “Don’t Let the World Dim Your Light.” After attempting to wear wigs to fit in, the Bailey sisters instead chose to rock their locs with pride, which undoubtedly cost them casting roles. Yet they would have the last laugh when making headlines as the “Teen Dreadlocked Duo” who landed a million-dollar contract with Parkwood Entertainment, and the coveted opportunity to be groomed under the tutelage of a world-renowned superstar.
Credit: Derek Blanks
While that could be the end of a beautiful fairytale of self-empowerment, the reality is that it’s just the beginning of the story of her evolution. For most girls, the transition into womanhood takes place in the comfort of their own worlds, often limited to the number of people they allow to have access to them. But for Chlöe, it’s happening in front of millions of critiquing eyes just waiting for an opportunity to either uplift or dissect her through unwarranted commentary.
Many in her position wouldn’t be able to take that kind of pressure. But Chlöe is handling it with grace. “I feel like all of us as humans, we have the right to interpret things how we want,” she says. “I put art out into the world and it's up for interpretation. I'm learning that not everyone is going to always like me and that it's okay.”
Chlöe isn’t the first artist to receive criticism for her carnal content, and she certainly won’t be the last. In 2010, Ciara writhed and rode her way to banishment on BET when the then 24-year-old released her video for “Ride.” In 2006, 25-year-old Beyoncé received backlash for “Déjà Vu."
"I put art out into the world and it's up for interpretation. I'm learning that not everyone is going to always like me and that it's okay.”
So much so that over 5,000 fans signed an online petition demanding that her label re-shoot the video because it was “too sexual.” Even 27-year-old Janet didn’t escape critical headlines when she shed her image of innocence for a more risqué appearance with the 1993 release of janet.
It’s almost as if public reproach is a rite of passage for young Black women R&B singers on the road to stardom. Good girls seemingly “go bad” whenever they embrace the depths of their femininity, and fans only like you on top figuratively. But Chlöe has learned not to bow down to other people’s opinions, but to boss up and control the narrative. As the saying goes, well-behaved women seldom make history. If sex appeal is her weapon, she wields it well.
On set, Chlöe exudes the energy of Aphrodite in an apple red, off-shoulder dress with a sexy high split. In between shots, she mouths the lyrics to Yebba’s “Boomerang” as it echoes throughout the space in steady repetition at my recommendation. The hour grows late, yet Chlöe is heating things up as eyes stare in deep mesmerization of the girl on fire.
Credit: Derek Blanks
Through music, she explores the depths of her being, a journey that seems to be, at its foundation, rooted in self-discovery. Whereas their debut album The Kids Are Alright (2018) boasts a young Chloe x Halle empowering their generation to embrace who they are while finding their place in the world, their second album Ungodly Hour (2020) shows the Bailey sisters shedding the veil of innocence for a more unapologetic bravado.
What fans looked forward to seeing is who Chlöe shows herself to be on her debut solo album In Pieces. In an interview with PEOPLE, she confesses that releasing her first project without her sister was “scary.” "It was a moment of self-doubt where I was like, 'Can I do this without my sister?’”
Chlöe has never been shy about sharing her insecurities or her vulnerabilities, all of which are laced throughout the 14-track album. “I want people to have fun when they listen to it and to just realize that they're not alone and it's okay to be vulnerable and raw and open because none of us are perfect; we're all far from it. And I think it's healing when we all admit to that instead of putting up a facade.”
The gift of time has given the self-professed “big lover girl” more encounters with romance and heartbreak. Love songs once sung for their beautiful riffs and melodies become more than just abstract lyrics and are replaced by real-life experiences, which she tells me is definitely in the music.
In her single “Pray It Away,” for example, she contemplates going to God for healing instead of going at her ex-lover for revenge for his infidelities. “With anything dealing with art, I am completely vulnerable,” she says. “I'm completely myself, I'm completely open and transparent. So it's pretty much all of me and who I am right now.”
Has Chlöe been in love? That still remains to be said. Of course, she’s been linked to a few potential baes, but dating in the digital age isn’t as easy as a double tap or drop of a heart-eyes emoji. It requires a level of trust and vulnerability that’s hard to earn, and easy to mishandle. To let her guard down means to potentially set herself up for disappointment. “It’s difficult dating right now, honestly, because you really have to kind of keep your guard up and pay attention to who's really there for you. And you know, I'm such an affectionate person and I love hard.
"So when I meet the one person that I really, really am into, it's hard for me to see any others and I get attached pretty easily. And you know, I don't know, it's…it's a scary thing.”
Credit: Derek Blanks
“With anything dealing with art, I am completely vulnerable. I'm completely myself, I'm completely open and transparent. So it's pretty much all of me and who I am right now.”
While broken hearts yield good music (queue Adele), what’s in Chlöe’s prayer is the desire to be happy. What does that look like? Well, she’s still figuring that out herself. “Honestly, I'm the type of person who I don't truly learn unless I experience it. So it's like I can view and watch my parents and watch the loving relationships that I see in my life and be like, ‘Oh, I want that. I would love to have that.’ But then I also have to experience [love] on my own and see what my flaws or my faults might be or see what my good things about myself are. I feel like it's really all about self-reflection. And even though our base is our family and that's our foundation, we are still our own individuals and we have to find out specifically the things about ourselves that may be different from what we saw from our parents when we were growing up.”
Her ideal beau, she tells me, is someone she can feel safe to be her fun, goofy self with, but who also gives her the space to be the boss chick chasing her dreams. A man who understands that just because the world compliments her doesn’t mean she doesn’t want to hear those words from his lips or feel it in his touch. A bonus if he shows up on set after a long hard day of work with vegan cinnamon rolls. You know, the basic necessities. “I like whoever I'm with to constantly tell me they love me and that I look beautiful because I do the same. I am a very mushy person, and if I see something or you look good, I will never shy away from saying it out loud. And I want whoever I'm with to do the same, be very vocal. Tell me that you love me. Tell me what you love about me because I'm doing the same for you because that's just the person I am.”
Until she meets her match she’s married to the game, and for now, that seems to be perfect matrimony.
Credit: Derek Blanks
On stage at the 2021 American Music Awards, Chlöe solidified her position as a force to be reckoned with. It was a full-circle moment. In 2012, bright-eyed and baby-faced Chloe and Halle would walk onto the set of The Ellen Degeneres Show and blow the audience away as they bellowed out their future mentor’s song. Ellen would present the sisters with tickets to attend the AMAs, assuring them that they would be back and had a promising future. Nine years later, Chlöe descends from the sky cloaked in a snow-white cape and matching midriff-baring bodysuit for her debut performance. It’s the first time she’s graced the stage of the very award show that she was once an audience member of.
As she shakes and shimmies and boom kack kacks out her eight counts, it’s clear that she’s in her element. Just like her VMA performance a couple of months prior, and the many more stages she’ll continue to grace, she brings an energy that has earned her comparisons to the beloved Queen Bey herself. An honorable statement, considering few R&B songstresses are getting accolades for their entertainment capabilities. It’s on these very stages, in front of hundreds of astonished eyes and millions more glued to their televisions at home, that she tells me she feels most sexy. Powerful, even.
But off stage, it’s a different story.
It’s more than just the commentary about her image and media-flamed rumors that get to her. Mentally, she’s in competition with herself. The desire to be the best burns at the back of her mind with every performance, every production, and every time she steps into the booth. Before, she could share the weight of this burden with her sister. Being a part of a duo meant she could turn to Halle for quiet confirmation and encouragement without a word being exchanged. But lately stepping on the stage means stepping out on her own. And despite being a breathtaking, five-time Grammy-nominated star, Chlöe doesn’t escape the reality that sometimes we can be our own worst critics.
Over the last year, she’s been coming to terms with who she is on her own while overcoming the fear of failing to become who she’s destined to be. While the world waits to see how Chlöe wins, the real triumph is in every day that she chooses herself and continues to walk in her purpose. “I don't really have anything all figured out, honestly. But what I try to do, a lot of prayer. I talk to God more and I just try to do things that calm my mind down and just breathe.”
To whom much is given, much will be required. She’s been chosen to walk this path for a reason. Once she fully embraces that everything she’s meant to be is already inside of her, she’ll be an unstoppable force. “My grandma, Elizabeth, she just passed away and my middle name is her [first] name. So I feel like I truly have a responsibility to live up to her legacy that she's left on this earth. I hope I can do that.”
There’s no doubt that she will. With a role in The Fighting Temptations at three years old, a million-dollar record deal, a main role on five seasons of Grown-ish, five Grammy nominations, a number one solo record in Urban and Rhythmic Radio, a debut solo album, and starring roles in recently released movies Praise Thisand Swarm (just to name a few), Chlöe’s certainly already made her mark, and she’s just getting started.
Photographer & Creative Director: Derek Blanks
Executive Producer: Necole Kane
Co-Executive Producer: EJ Jamele
Producer: Erica Turnbull
Digitech: Chris Keller
DP: Alex Nikishin
Gaffer: Simeon Mihaylov
Photo Assistant: Chris Paschal
2nd Photo Assistant: Tyler Umprey
Features Editor: Kiah McBride
Special Projects: Tyeal Howell
Hair: Malcolm Marquez
Makeup: Yolonda Frederick
Fashion Styling: Ashley Sean Thomas
For More: Cover Story: Issa Rae Comes Full Circle
Megan Thee Stallion is ready to resume her life, not as a victim but as a survivor of gun violence.
In a recent as-told-to essay for ELLE, the 28-year-old mega-star took time to reflect on her experience surviving the shooting incident involving rapper Tory Lanez in July 2020.
In the piece, Megan described her traumas in the aftermath of the shooting and the drawn-out legal case and trial that brought on the public's negative reaction to the incident.
“Imagine how it feels to be called a liar every day?” Megan says. “Especially from a person who was once part of your inner circle.” She notes that many people were quick to doubt her story and blame her for how the incident unfolded. For nearly three years, she went through the weight of public humiliation, while being the brunt of jokes, memes, and “sneak disses” as her humanity was ignored.
“The truth is that I started falling into a depression,” the rapper says. “I didn’t feel like making music. I was in such a low place that I didn’t even know what I wanted to rap about. I wondered if people even cared anymore.”
She adds, “There would be times that I’d literally be backstage or in my hotel, crying my eyes out, and then I’d have to pull Megan Pete together and be Megan Thee Stallion.”
Megan wrote how not fitting “the profile of a victim” played a role in the dismissal of her traumas in the public eye and emphasized the importance of believing women when they come forward with their own stories of violence and abuse. “But my heart hurts for all the women around the world who are suffering in silence, especially if you’re a Black woman who doesn’t appear as if she needs help,” she says.
“So many times, people looked at me and thought, ‘You look strong. You’re outspoken. You’re tall. You don’t look like somebody who needs to be saved.’ They assumed that, per preconceived stigmas, ‘I didn’t fit the profile of a victim,’ and that I didn’t need support or protection.”
With time, the Houston fem-cee has been able to take a step away from the public eye to heal, spend time with her dogs, and “doing a lot of praying” to recover from the incident. “The physical and mental scars from this entire ordeal will always sting, but I’m taking the appropriate steps to resume my life,” Megan says.
And while she is “in a happier place,” there are still moments of anxiety that come up from time to time. “Talking about being shot still makes me emotional. I’ve started journaling as a way to better process my thoughts, hopes, and fears,” she says. “Prayer has also played a therapeutic role in my healing, because I can have honest and unfiltered conversations with God without any judgment.”
Megan concluded her essay by expressing her hope for a future where people can live without fear of gun violence and victims of trauma and abuse can receive the support and healing they need.
“My purpose is for these words to serve as the final time that I’ll address anything regarding this case in the press,” Megan notes in the article. “I understand the public intrigue, but for the sake of my mental health, I don’t plan to keep reliving the most traumatic experience of my life over and over again. I’m choosing to change the narrative because I’m more than just my trauma.”
With new music to come, we look forward to seeing Megan back on her healed, hot girl ish.
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Featured image by Hubert Vestil/WireImage