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Gwen Tuinman

Novelist Speaker Advocate

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Seeking Inspiration

My Friend, Annie

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What can I say about Annie? I’ve known her for nearly fifteen years. There’s always a spark in her eye and a smile on her lips. She is quick with a kind word, a pearl of wisdom or an amusing anecdote. Annie is a strong woman, an eternal optimist. At a time when I was feeling low, she turned to me and said, “Oh, I like you. You march to be the beat of your own drum.” Those words have stayed with me for over a decade. I recall them on days when I feel like a square peg crammed into a round hole. Continue reading “My Friend, Annie”

China Rock: A Historical Hook in California

“Cal-i-for-nia, here I come!” This is the song I was singing last July, when I prepared to travel along the Californian coast, from Los Angeles to San Francisco. Among the memorable experiences, one of the most impactful to my writer’s imagination, was one discovered by chance.  China Rock. Continue reading “China Rock: A Historical Hook in California”

Walt Whitman: Part 2

ww0053sMy appreciation of this great American poet has deepened as a result of the discoveries made in Seeking Inspiration — Walt Whitman: Part I. Previous to this research, I’d known nothing about his Quaker ancestry, the impact of alcohol on his childhood, his career in print and journalism, or his interest in the abolition movement. Continue reading “Walt Whitman: Part 2”

Walt Whitman: Part 1

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I first became interested in Walt Whitman’s poetry after seeing him featured as a character in a Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman episode called The Body Electric. He was portrayed as a gentle nature loving man who extended great patience when people were judgmental. This was only a story, I know, but his personality was appealing.  So, off I went to the library, in search of a copy of his collection of poetry, Leaves of Grass. Continue reading “Walt Whitman: Part 1”

Frida Kahlo: Part 2

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In Frida Kahlo: Part I, I set out to build a picture of her life before her artistic success. I wondered how nature and nurture worked together to form this determined artist. Her first years were undoubtedly tumultuous, coping with her mother’s of affection, her sisters being sent away, and the affects of polio in her right leg. Continue reading “Frida Kahlo: Part 2”

Frida Kahlo: Part 1

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I first became aware of Frida Kahlo, as I suspect many people did, through Salma Hayek’s portrayal of her in the self titled movie Frida released in 2002. The imagery and music captivated me as did Frida’s complex multi faceted character. She lived in chaotic circumstances among an evolving cast of troubled figures, political activists and social nonconformists. Continue reading “Frida Kahlo: Part 1”

Laura Secord’s Courage: War of 1812

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In Canada, most school children will hear the story of Laura Secord — how during the War of 1812, she travelled a great distance on foot to warn the British about an imminent American attack. Even adults are reminded of her courage through the Heritage Minute ad campaign run by Historica Canada. Still, some of us hear the name and our mouths water for a box of chocolates. Continue reading “Laura Secord’s Courage: War of 1812”

Bicycles Changed the Lives of Victorian Women

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For me, a bicycle represents exercise, a pleasure ride down a country road, or an eco friendly trip to the farmer’s market. I’ve written in the past of my fondness for riding on two wheels. For Victorian women of the mid 1800’s, bicycles represented something quite different, something I’ve taken for granted — freedom. Continue reading “Bicycles Changed the Lives of Victorian Women”

Kate Carmack: Cheated of Klondike Gold

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The Gold Rush era and it’s tales of fortune and misfortune continue to intrigue me. When I see those haunted faces staring out from old photographs, I find myself wondering at the life stories behind their expressions of defeat. Of course, not all images convey a dismal fate. Some are filled with round faced optimism and celebratory expressions. Continue reading “Kate Carmack: Cheated of Klondike Gold”

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