There’s a route I walk through my neighbourhood when I’m trying to think and sometimes when I’m trying not to think. More often than not, I circle the loop solo (if you don’t count the characters of my novel riding on my shoulders). When other humans cross my path, I nod and give the smile that says, “Way to go, you’re out in the world.” We’re mostly introverted, hence the early hour of our stroll. But once in a while, the sidewalk presents a bubbling extrovert. What can you do but take notice?

A few weeks ago, a little boy perhaps 3 or 4 years old, steered his red motorized car in my direction. His father, all smiles, walked along side. They’d pass a few trees in the boulevard, then the man would call out, “Go get ‘em!” The boy would stop his car, and jump out with his toy chainsaw raised above his head.

Yes. I said chainsaw.

The youngster would run to the nearest tree and pretend to saw away while his father cheered him on. Then child would hop back into the car and drive to the next tree for a fresh re-enactment. I couldn’t resist asking the man, “What are we cutting down?”

“Red monsters!”

“Hah! I feel much safer now.” I continued down the street smiling. Later I wondered what red monsters meant to the boy. Were they after-dark villains, a source of bad dreams? Had the father invented this game of warring against monsters to rid the boy of night terrors?

For the next several blocks, I reflected on the words of Buddhist nun and author, Pema Chodron who writes about warriors of a spiritual sort in her book, The Places That Scare You. “A warrior accepts that we can never know what will happen to us next (…) The central question of a warrior’s training is not how we avoid uncertainty and fear but how we relate to discomfort.”

What an interesting and necessary shift in thinking during this time when there are so many red monsters and not enough toy chainsaws.

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I love the company of curious people. Our conversations leave me feeling lighter and joyful. New ideas tumble inside my head after we part ways. In correlation to curiosity, they are introspective and keenly interested in other people’s view points. Ideas, humanity, and the natural world light them up. They extend the pleasure of their discoveries to others. Upon reflection, in detailing attributes of an interesting companion, I’ve also described a writer.
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 The Last Hoffman  is a poignant family drama featuring a multilayered cast of tightly woven characters in a fractured northern community. It will restore your belief in second chances.

“I Loved Your Book The Last Hoffman. It is insightful and honest and a great read. So to all of my reader friends Gwen is writing about us. Canadian literature at it’s finest.” –A Reader

“For all the novel features characters that are alone, it is a story driven by human connections (…) With vivid descriptions, natural dialogue and in-depth characterization, Tuinman compels us to look beyond the surface. The ending is triumphant.” –Historical Novel Society