Psychic space and an unusual recipe for mitigating a cold

August 7, 2016 at 12:17 pm | Posted in Books, creativity, health, Living creatively, writers' habits | Leave a comment
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When I was chosen to be a blogger in residence at the ACT Writers Centre I planned to supplement those once a month blogs with more frequent postings on this personal blog. But I’m going to have surgery soon (nothing serious) and I’ve been psyching myself up for that and doing all the things I wanted to do before being incapacitated for six weeks, and the weekly blogs I’d planned – even though I had a million ideas for them – just didn’t get written!

My interior life is rich and tumultuous, and I felt happy. For a writer it’s a matter of always learning – through both absorbing other people’s art and/or practising one’s own, and I’ve just been in a phase of drenching my brain with other people’s work while not doing much of my own, merely living in the present and appreciating the joy of others’ creative efforts and of nature – wet and wild as it’s been in this Canberra winter. My submitted novel MS went up a rung of the ladder towards acceptance to a place I was told very few MSS get to, so here’s hoping.

Meanwhile, I kept absorbing books (favourite: David Leser’s To Begin To Know) and films (favourite: The Wilderpeople), DVDs (favourite: Borgen) and other cultural experiences (favourite play: Hannie Rayson’s Extinction), and I was feeling I had no more psychic space to share my thoughts with a public audience. I just needed to be more interior and private for a while.

Recently I went to the ‘pre-op’ day. I caught the train for two hours and wrote a speech while looking out the window at the swirling Molonglo Gorge and rain-drenched gum trees. Once there I sailed though all the tests, passing with flying colours. I had doctors telling me I should live forever with a heart like mine. A nurse told me I had the lung capacity of someone twelve years younger than I am. (Must be all the cycling.) No diseases, no allergies, no smoking, no drugs, no nothing! I also ticked the box saying no cold for the past two weeks.

The big posh dinner

A few days later I gave someone a lift to a function where I was giving the speech. My travelling companion had caught a terrible cold on a recent plane flight where a man had sneezed in her face. She didn’t want to miss out on the big posh dinner. I was tempted to put her in a taxi but politeness prevailed and I picked her up and sat in the heated car with all the windows up, naturally, at night in Canberra, as we drove to the big posh event at the big posh place.

The night went well and everyone laughed in all the right places in my speech. But a few days later, I got that cold. When I say cold, I don’t mean a bit of the sniffles. I mean for days enduring an iron band around my head at forehead height that was half an inch smaller than my head. I mean days on end filled with paroxysms of coughing that left me exhausted enough to collapse into sleep – until not long after when the next paroxysm woke me. I mean not even being interested in coffee in the mornings, when until then I’d been totally addicted to my café au laits.

Finally, finally, the cold loosened its hold on me and on my life and I could look up and see the sky (winter, white, just-about-to-snow-looking-pallor). I’ll share with you a trick I learnt from a Malaysian student that does ease a sore throat and mitigates a cold. In my future blog for the ACT Writers Centre (the CAPITAL LETTERS blog) I do a Writers’ Health one but I couldn’t fit this tip in, and besides, it’s not specifically for writers. Everyone gets the common cold! So it is better to share it on this blog, which has a slightly broader audience.

Cold remedy

Half-fill a tablespoon with honey (preferably not heat-treated, which destroys much of the goodness; your health food shop will have some). Crush a peeled garlic clove on top plus some ginger juice. You make ginger juice easily: grate a small amount of ginger, say, enough to fit in your palm or about two inches square, then squeeze it in your palm, which is now a fist, and the juice drips easily out onto your prepared tablespoon. Eat the lot.

It’s more palatable than you might think. You mostly taste the honey. You’ll probably not have the best-smelling breath but you won’t be feeling like kissing anyone anyway so it won’t matter. Honey has antioxidant, antibacterial and antimicrobial properties to fight against viruses. Honey relieves an irritated throat and boosts the immune system. Garlic is antibacterial and antiviral. Ginger is both these too plus stimulates perspiration and is antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and boosts the immune system. It’s also a mild sedative and has anti-nausea properties.

A sense of proportion

So if surgery doesn’t have to be postponed because of the cold I’d told them I didn’t have, I’ll be recuperating with Jodi Picout’s Lone Wolf (fascinating and accessible and not too demanding), selected New Yorkers and Guardian Weeklies and all the Chaser Quarterly issues – www.chaser.com.au/shop – I’ve saved up because laughter is the best medicine. It relieves physical tension and stress, leaving muscles relaxed for 45 minutes afterwards. It boosts the immune system and infection-fighting antibodies. It even tones the abdominal muscles, acting like internal jogging! Plus, as I said in my speech the other night, a sense of humour is a sense of proportion.

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