Look at this stuff, isn't it neat?

As I've said before, I hate Black Friday. In fact, I would rather snuggle with a porcupine while eating poorly cooked Brussels sprouts than face the crowds that will be out in force today. Instead of sitting at home to avoid all of the traffic, I'm starting a new tradition this year. In the course of the cleaning I've done over the past few months, I've uncovered two garbage bags' worth of clothing and stuff that I don't use. Today I'm taking an inventory of that stuff and tomorrow it's going to the thrift store.

Taking that clutter out of my environment has a deeper effect than simply ordering my surroundings. Cleaning has always been a meditative process, but it's only enjoyable when other parts of my life are pretty much out of my control. Falling into a rhythm of dusting, sweeping, mopping, scrubbing and washing gives my brain the chance to move independently of my physical body.

Completely overhauling my brain's organization takes several hours. When I'm studying science it takes even longer. Very few people have actually seen me in the throes of one of these cleaning binges, and the ones who have just stay out of my way. Sometimes these cleaning meditations take my brain to slightly darker places, and it's usually been these interruptions that have allowed me to snap out of that line of thought.

Last time it happened, I was on medicine that made my mood go haywire even though I was exercising. It also made me dizzy and weak, so I took the first leg of the cleaning slowly. Two loads of laundry were waiting to be folded, and I threw another load into the washer and put the clean clothes to the side. During that cycle, I began dusting and sweeping the bedroom. For the following three hours, I methodically cleaned each room in my apartment.

When I started on the last task, folding laundry, I started thinking about the acts of kindness that have been offered to me recently. From hugs to food to laughter and understand, even the smallest of gestures is a reminder of the amazing people in my life. At the end of folding the laundry, I plopped down. After putting my thoughts and feelings from the past week in order, I needed a moment to collect what was left. When I got up, I left my apartment for the first time that day to share a beer with Adam and his friends. My life was in order, so a little fun was in store.

As for shopping, I'm going to stick mostly to Small Business Saturday. If I am going to throw some elbows, I'd rather the effort support Birmingham-based businesses. American Express's offer of a $25 credit for a $25 purchase on Small Business Saturday certainly doesn't hurt. Anyone want to go to Freshfully with me tomorrow?

Title from "The Little Mermaid" song "Part Of Your World."