Author: Wordsweaver

Writer and independent journalist. Follow me twitter @wordsweaver and view a select sample of my work at http://iryntushabe.pressfolios.com.

Take a vacation through reading

Hello Fancy Lacy Community,

The days have gotten longer and for the last few days at least, we’ve had perfect summer weather at the start of spring. I don’t know about you but for me, beautiful warm weather always stirs my wanderlust. But because it will be a while before I get to travel (I’m going home to Uganda this August!), I like to take a vacation, multiple vacations in fact, by through reading. What’s better than cozying up with a book in a hammock in your backyard (Or at the beach!), an ice-cold drink only an arms length away, while losing yourself in the pages of a wonderful book? It’s a trip!

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At the beginning of this year, I made a resolution to read more books by African writers than I have done previously. And so far, I have stood by that commitment. While I was aware that African literature was starting to really flourish, I have been pleasantly surprised to discover for myself this amazing crop of writers whose characters I absolutely identify with and not just because they have noses as large as my own or their hair, like mine, has the curls tight enough to strangulate the hardiest combs. No. It’s all that and more. Some of them are writers telling real stories about what it really means to grow up in an African country and telling them with such mind-blowing literary merit, and others are writers of African descent whose craftsmanship just leaps off the page. One such writer is Helen Oyeyemi and I’m right now half way through her recently launched collection of short stories, What’s Not Yours is not Yours. It is magic! (Also, really, there’s magic in it)

Here are a few other books currently on my night stand:

  1. Lyrics Alley by Leila Aboulela
  2. Under the Udala Tree by Chinelo Okparatha
  3. Tram 83 by Fiston Mwanza.

All three except Lyrics Alley are first novels and they don’t read at all like first time attempts at the novel by both writers. Chinelo’s is a poignantly told story set in Nigeria during the Biafra war and Fiston’s is brilliantly dark.

Pick up a copy and tell me your impressions!

Happy book-travelling!

Iryn

Massage fever 

Hello Fancy Lacy community,

There’s a first time for everything!

Earlier this week I went for a deep tissue Swedish massage. It was a Christmas present from my husband, who knows how much I love massages. They are my poison, those massages. Every once in a while I like to treat myself to a hot stone massage, especially when I’ve been subjecting my body to a lot of work, like training for a half marathon and such.

I  really enjoyed my Swedish massage. I felt the pressure was just fine so whenever the therapist asked me if it hurt, I said ‘only a little bit but its fine!”

Well, after the session when the therapist left so I could put my clothes back on, I suddenly felt nauseous and light headed, like I was about to pass out. The last time I felt like that was in 2013 after my first ever Queen City half marathon when I thought I was going to die.

I’m used to feeling great after a massage, not nauseous and chilly and light headed. It was awful! The therapist offered me water and I felt a little bit better after drinking it but the awful feeling lasted into the day. It wasn’t until much later in the evening that I felt I could risk eating something without the possibility of hurling.

I’d read about how deep tissue massages can release toxins and damaged blood cells into the blood stream, which can poison the body but I knew this theory to be deeply flawed. I don’t think that’s what happened.

And everyone who runs has probably been warned by their doctors about rhapdbomyiolisis, a condition in which extreme exertion can cause severe muscle tissue breakdown enough to damage the kidneys and lead to symptoms way more severe than what I experienced after my massage. But this condition is so rare that its nearly impossible to happened to marathoners. From what I’ve read in an old kinesiology textbook, it’s more likely to be caused by traumatic accidents, extensive burns to the body and electrical shock.

So I still don’t know what happened to me during that massage. Right now I’m leaning toward the the idea that the nausea and malaise were brought on by the fact that I skimped out on breakfast to rush my daughter to school because we woke up late. I’d had a coffee at some point but when I had the massage at 1pm, I hadn’t had a chance have lunch either. My uneducated guess is that somehow my body hit the wall due to dwindling glucose levels.

Has anybody out there ever had the same thing happen to them after a massage? Care to share your experience?

’till next time!

Iryn

And cue the last minute christmas presents

It’s the most wonderful time of the year but it can also be very stressful.

Where I grew up in Western Uganda, Christmas is all about large family gatherings and food – a seemingly endless supply of food and drinks, but never the exchange of presents.

But since I have called Regina home for almost a decade now, I have assimilated quite a bit into the Canadian tradition of exchanging presents at Christmas. When In Rome and all that. Mind you, it doesn’t mean I’m good at it.

I find it quite stressful guessing at what family and friends expect from me for presents. This is why I love kids. You can ask them what they want and they’ll tell you. And you can negotiate with them (No. That’s too expensive!)

Adults on the other hand aren’t always forthcoming. They tell you they’ve got everything they need but really they do expect something (Surprise me!)

If you are a procrastinator like myself and have yet to conquer that Christmas shopping list, here are a couple of suggestions for unusual holiday gifts from right here in Saskatchewan.

1. Give the gift of REST

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Float houses are rapidly becoming popular across Canada and in Saskatchewan as well. A quick google search turns up three Spas in Regina’s downtown alone.

REST, or Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy, works on the principle of sensory deprivation.

This is how it works. You get locked up in a pitch black tank filled with salty, body-temperature water, wearing nothing else (OK maybe a swim suit) but earplugs. Sounds terrifying, right? Wrong! From what I’ve heard from those that have floated, it is a deeply relaxing experience. And if you buy someone you love a gift certificate to one of these spas, they’ll tell you all about their floatation therapy experience. It’s a win win really.

2. Locally made one-of-a-kind jewelry

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Saskatchewan is an arts and crafts hub. We have some really wonderful artists making unique pieces. Some, like Regina jewelry artist Megan Hazel, will work with you to design something that can’t ever be replicated. Megan can also take your old jewelry rings that don’t fit anymore, and give them new life in the shape of another piece of jewelry like a necklace or earrings.

3. Give the gift of art

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Almost anyone can take a selfie these days, which has kind of ruined portrait photography in a way. But how cool would it be to have the likeness of your loved one captured on canvas? You can commission a local artist to paint a portrait of your loved one or something else symbolic like your favourite wedding photo. I know one Saskatchewan artist, Brandi Hofer, who can work off of photographs. But I think it would also be really amazing to sit for a painter, to get to be a muse for an hour or two, and see how the work turns out. It’s a timeless gift and experience, and there’s certainly no shortage of artists/painters in Saskatchewan to make this happen.

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Thank you for reading,

Iryn Tushabe

Five reasons to fall in love with fall

Hello Fancy Lacy Community,

I simply cannot get enough of fall. I’ve always wondered if its because I was born and raised in a tropical country where the leaves were always green and the sun never seemed to ever want to go down. It’s a magical time of transitions. Leaves turning into all kinds of enchanting oranges and yellows and reds, the summer heat getting drowned out by the autumn breeze, chilling it just enough so you can wear a sweater and shorts, and of course there’s an abundance of pumpkins!

But if you still aren’t feeling the season, here are a few reasons to inspire you to fall in love with fall.

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Fall for the hues: There’s nothing quite like walking (or driving) down a street canopied with tree branches shedding all kind of colour leaves.

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Fall into fitness: The cool days of fall are a jogger’s paradise. You can run for miles without feeling like you are about to keel over and die (That happens to me in summer). It helps build up your endurance and it’s a great way to gradually acclimatize your self to running when the mercury finally dips below zero in winter. If you want to get into running, fall is the perfect time to start.

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Fall Fashion: From cozy cowl sweaters to knee-length boots, fall is the best time of year fashion-wise. Indulge your inner fashionista.

Soups

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Fall for comfort food: The great thing about fall is that you don’t have to be a whiz in the kitchen to whip up delicious tasting food that fills your home with delightful smells. Also, hot pumpkin spiced latte!

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Bring fall indoors: While summer is great for drawing us all to the great outdoors, the crisp, cool autumn air certainly brings us back in. Bringing the autumn beauty indoors with us can be an exciting experiment in interior decorating. Try some fall accents in your living room.

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Thank you for reading,

Iryn

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Iryn Tushabe is a freelance journalist, filmmaker and passionate gardener. She writes about science, health, wellness, and social change. Iryn’s writing has appeared in the Leader Post and the Star Phoenix (As well as their respective weekly magazines, QC and Bridges). She’s also a contributing writer for the Saskatchewan Network for Art Collecting.

Follow her on twitter @wordsweaver.