jad·ed (jā-dəd),  adj. [pp. of jade, v.I],  1. Tired; worn-out; wearied.  2. Dulled or satiated, as from overuse.

The interesting thing about language is how just one letter can create a seismic-size shift in meaning. For example, jaded is a word that means disillusioned, worn down, made dull, apathetic or cynical. One form of the word “jade” is also a verb signifying these sentiments. But the noun version of jade is of course, a gem, a green natural stone that in Chinese culture is revered for the qualities it signifies.

When I think of certain aspects of my life lately, I think of the grooves that form in wood after wheels have run over the same patch over and over again. My creative life feels as if it has stalled. I have moved to a new house and although it is beginning to feel like home, there is more I want to do to personalize my space and make it my own. After some difficult experiences over the past few months, including the break-ins I wrote about here on the blog, I don’t feel like I have the energy or inventiveness to jump the track.

So, I reordered a Feng Shui book I owned years ago in the hopes of at least manifesting what I want in my life in my personal space. Maybe by being intentional about the qi (pronounced chee) in my house, I thought, I would find some insights into what to work on now. Feng Shui literally translates to “wind-water”. Feng Shui, for those unfamiliar, is an ancient Chinese practice in aesthetics that is based in the idea that the energy in your home can be enhanced by the ordering of your home and the placement of the items within it. With intention, you can enhance areas of your life. Your space is divided into baguas, or zones. There are nine baguas: prosperity, fame & reputation, relationships & love, family, health, creativity & children, skills & knowledge, career, and helpful people & travel.

Jade Plant, photo by Matt Baume

For each, there are associated colors, elements and shapes that can be used to enhance the area. By enhancing the qi in your space, you enhance the qi in your life.

I think there is something to this stirring of energy. It makes logical sense to me that the way in which our home is structured would affect our internal structures. I think most readily of clutter. When clutter infests our homes, it also takes up space in our lives. Instead of taking the time needed to do some clearing, we live with the knowledge that there are bills to be paid, paintings to be hung, dishes to be attended to. And those items and the knowledge of them takes up psychic space that could be better used focusing on more important matters. If we neglect the spaces we live in, that neglect can wear us out.

The first year I lived in San Francisco, my room was painted a fluorescent green color. This green was a compromise with the prior resident, who agreed to paint over his one royal blue accent wall with this green. “I was envisioning the colors of the earth when I painted,” he told me. “Uh huh,” I responded. It was hideous.

I intended to paint over it immediately, but little did I know that I was entering one of the most difficult periods in my life. I had a hard time functioning much less considering things like decorating or qi (maybe I should have). So through that difficult time, the fluorescence remained. When I was starting to come out of it and began to reconsider how to organize my space to restore balance and wellbeing in my life, I finally went to the hardware store down the street and bought some paint.

I don’t remember the chip name, but I picked a sagey, jade-toned green. Green has always been one of my favorite colors. I remembered that it was said to be a calming color, fitting for a bedroom. I just needed a shade that suited me.

Chinese Jade

In Chinese culture, jade symbolizes beauty, nobility, perfection, constancy, power, and immortality. There is a Chinese saying that states: “God has a value; jade is invaluable.”  Stones have been found in the country that date back to 5,000 B.C. Whomever wears jade is believed to be protected from misfortune (Could it be said that in wearing jade, this person is “jaded”?)

Chinese Jade

I wonder what attracts me to this shade of green. The color is pleasant to me. It reminds me of Louisiana, of the color of leaves when lit by the sun.

I know for sure that it wasn’t repainting my walls that made me reconnect with important parts of myself that had been neglected. I do know that when it was time to paint, I felt a sense of urgency about it. I went from waiting a year to take care of it to feeling like I needed to paint immediately. So, I bought the paint and brushes, moved all my furniture to the center of the room, draped the floor and the furniture with dropcloths, and began to cover the walls with a new color.

When I was done, my arms were covered in specks of jade that would take a week to finally come off. I found them funny, these stubborn bits of paint. While I tried my best to scrub them off, I also took a kind of pleasure in the testament to small changes I was making in my life.

I know for sure that painting my walls didn’t change my life. But I also know for sure paying attention to my environment was a step in taking care of myself and my needs. I was paying attention to all the spaces I lived and moved and breathed in, the spaces without and within.

My room in the Western Addition, San Francisco


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