Calgary Board of Education - Chinook Learning Services

Managing Workplace Emotions
You can't change conflict and opposing points of view in the workplace. You can, however, change the way you react. Become more emotionally aware, harness your emotions and express them positively with control, confidence and composure.
Thursday April 23 2020 12.30pm -3.30pm

Conflict Resolution for the Workplace
Successful conflict resolvers are not born; they are trained. Build your skills as an effective conflict resolver and mediator. Learn to recognize conflict patterns and what triggers and escalates conflict in others, master strategies that reduce conflict escalation, assert yourself confidently and give constructive feedback. These skills will help you work more productively and harmoniously with clients, colleagues and superiors. See Course Outline.
Instructor: Wilma Rubens - see Instructor Profile

Fridays 1st 8th May 2020 9.00 - 4.00pm

My story straw to gold
We live our life forwards, yet read it backwards. Discover the unique story that your life makes as you reflect on where your desires, struggles, and insights have taken you. Learn to use free-fall writing, guided meditation, and discussion to put your conflicts into a bigger picture and see yourself as the hero/heroine in your own wandering journey even as it is happening. No previous writing experience is necessary.
Read Course Reviews. Instructor: Wilma Rubens - see Instructor Profile

Entangled Enchantments

Entangled Enchantments
My very first collection of poetry. These poems celebrate my journey on the uncharted waters of the feminine. For your very own copy purchase at Cafe Books, Canmore, or Pages in Kensington, Calgary or contact

Monday, May 4, 2020

2020 The Year of Covid

"How others will react to this quarantine is none of your business. Make a commitment to change and not forget. Make sure this storm shakes you up so much that it completely revolutionizes your life." ―Elena BernabĂ©, Indigenous Peoples Cultures. April, 2020
My life was ticking along with great workshops scheduled in March, April and May. Enter the wee virus that came with a destructive intention. Just like that we were all introduced to staying home and social distancing. All my workshops cancelled and businesses except essential services shut down.
In my seventy one years I worked hard to create my own reality. And pouf, covid dared to classify me as elderly. Although I did recognize I had much to be grateful for - living in a beautiful home in the Rocky Mountains.
Then on the 9th of April an email labelled ‘manuscript submission’ arrived in my inbox. “Dear Wilma, Unfortunately it has been decided not to proceed with your manuscript……..” - my seventh rejection letter in two years. I told myself, I am strong I can handle this. When pains in my right hip and thigh announced sciatica, I consulted my long time guru Louise Hay. In her book ‘You Can Heal Your Life’ I read the negative belief under sciatica was, “Being hypo-critical. Fear of money and of the future.” This rang a bell. Rejection, self-criticism, not good enough, comparing myself with others have been my floating subconscious for many years. For a few days I repeated her positive affirmation “I move into my greater good. My good is everywhere and I am secure and safe.” Along with stretching, and ibuprofen the pain left.
Next I consulted Dr Google a brilliant psychiatrist, on how to deal with disappointment.  His first piece of advice, “Do what makes you feel better” was a challenge given our endless winter of cold and snow and skiing banned due to our friend the virus.  The second suggestion, “Time by myself” was a no brainer in covid isolation. The third piece said, “attach yourself to your desire not your goal.” Now I had been writing my memoir for so long I had almost forgotten my original purpose - to share my travel experiences of exotic people and places. However as I delved deeper into the writing process I learned a good narrative is not about ‘we went there and took a photograph,’ but about tension, suspense and yes conflict.
When both my editor and a friend asked me if my manuscript was about my mother I rebelled. It had never been my plan to write about mother. Nevertheless I am sure that somewhere in my subconscious I was indeed trying to show her I was right in pursuing my truth not hers. What is/was my true desire?? Approval from others? Money? A career? Telling the world how it should be? Or hard it was/is for mothers?
This led me to days of introspection. I remembered how in the fall at our women’s writing retreat, deeply buried under my nice girl persona, tears in my eyes, I uncovered my profound shame of my words. To grow up in Presbyterian Scotland without being shamed was impossible – smacked over the knuckles in grade one, humiliated by my French teacher, mother burning my book The Naked Ape and feeling abandoned by father’s death at age 10.
Some years ago hiking in the Rockies, it came to me that I was in a cocoon and my writing self barely a teenager. Recently as I meditated on a Medicine wheel I recalled projects and life itself were seasonal. My writing needed the fall to let go, winter to hibernate, spring to sprout new life and fruit would arrive in the summer.
Back to the internet, “Disappointment is helping you become a stronger individual, with new awareness and growth.”
From experience I have learned to watch my thoughts like a cat catching a mouse, that ‘love is letting go of fear,’ and the comfort of a hot bath. To me freedom is rooting myself hiking by rivers, in forests and mountains.
As I contemplated the benefits of writing I appreciate the passionate people I have met who encouraged me to know myself. The classes that I taught that make me feel as if ‘I was born to do this.’ I have slowly learned be compassionate to my erroneous thoughts and my immature writer on her growing edge.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Don’t call me a girl I am a woman.
I was a girl who grew up in Scotland and hung out with my two sisters. A skilled seamstress my mother dressed us in identical dresses. I was expected to be a nice girl that meant sweet, do as I was told, be a virgin until a married a good Christian boy. My sisters and I took delight in judging others, who could never come up to our high expectations of skinny bodies in matching outfits and shoes.
As a girl I rebelled and took off to India.  In Kashmir I left my girlhood behind. There the males touched me as a western woman in objectionable ways.  When I walked down the street if I was touched I thumped him or another male.
When my Mother came to visit she was upset by my displays of anger. I never discussed my woman hood with her nor, what being a woman meant to her.
Now I am a wise woman –opps that almost slid off the page. I am passionate about being called a woman not a girl. I have two grown children, a long term husband and a career. I have earned my womanhood - definitely a wise woman.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

My Mother’s Story  by Wilma G. Rubens
Dedicated to my female forebears who were nurses – my Scottish grandmother Russell was the matron of a hospital, her daughter, my aunty Ella was a nurse and married a surgeon, her daughter Anne trained as a nurse and midwife, my mother Gladys, her sister Amy and my own sister Dorothy were nurses.

At my mother’s funeral her sister Agnes told me “As a young woman she was a snob and a great one for the boys. She lived more in heaven than earth.” 

Born in Belfast 1911 my mother Gladys was the oldest of three sisters and one brother. Growing up she experienced ‘the troubles’ and drunken men fighting in the streets. Her mother, my grandmother Agnes Cargo said that she would never have had all those kids if she had heard of Marie Stopes. Stopes was a campaigner for women's rights and a pioneer in the field of family planning. 

In the past humanity has been devastated by infectious diseases.  My mother’s beloved Grandmother Marie Cairns had five children. Amelia 18 and Margaret 23 died of tuberculosis. Hodgkin’s disease killed Tommy at 24 and a duodenal ulcer killed William at 37.

Mother left school at 14 and became a skilled tailoress. Her ambition led her to talk to an influential man and she was accepted into nurses training. As a child she taught me to make my bed with tight envelope corners and no creases in the sheets. “When I trained we worked 70 hours a week,” she told me. “The sisters were very strict. We had to make the beds perfectly.”

After her training in Ireland she left to work at a sanatorium in England. Her young patients had tuberculosis. The treatment was based on fresh air and rest.

She contracted Tuberculosis at the hospital. I don’t know how long or how ill she was. I do know that she recovered with close attention to her diet. I am certain we were the only family in central Scotland that ate brown bread, salads and made visits to the Health food store to buy coconut treats. For sure none of our neighbors made treacle scones with soya flour. One day as a child I accompanied my mother to the Doctor to have her lungs x-rayed. She was very quiet and I sensed she was embarrassed as if she had something to hide.

After her recovery she trained at Glasgow Royal Infirmary to become a midwife. She worked in the borders of Scotland during the Second World War as a public health nurse and midwife. She told stories of courageously driving at night through the snow to deliver babies.
She became a fervent evangelical Christian. I imagine she met my handsome father, a minister, at some church event. When she married him I can only imagine how difficult it must have been for her to give up the career she had worked so hard for. I remember taking Mother to visit her younger brother my uncle Harry and how he challenged her, “Why can’t a man have a drink in the pub with his son or daughter?”

And now we face the corona virus. A new experience for our generation. I have a profound respect for my mother’s recovery and her incredible dedication to care for the sick.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Christmas Letter 2018     

It was the night before Christmas…..

Last year as refugees from twenty-seven Canadian winters, Clive and I biked along the Carretera Austral through Patagonia. The Carretera is a 1,200km mainly gravel road.  Had I known I was going to spend Christmas Eve miserably wet I would have planned better. The 23rd Dec our friend Pedro, from Rio, Clive and I pitched our tents in a wooden shelter by a lake. Just like British Columbia, rain hovered over the tree clad hills, water lapped on the shore, as we warmed ourselves by a fire. In the morning it rained. Not much was said as we packed our saddle bags and set off. After a couple of hours, the road steepened, dripping wet and weary we biked past a road workers shelter. Pablo and Annibal, student Chilean bikers popped their heads out. “Hi, it’s dry in here.” Full of smiles they looked as if they were having the best adventure ever. Fuelled up with milo powder mixed with yoghurt and their youthful exuberance, we biked on the wet ripio - gravel road - to the pass.

Tongues of snow descended from the gloom that obscured the summits. Waterfalls spilled over cliffs and snaked through the forest. We zipped our rain jackets up to our chins then hurtled down. Trembling, cold to the bone, I hugged my instant coffee and hot dogs purchased from a roadside food van. The rain trickled down my face as we biked the next 30 km of tarmac past more waterfalls and rushing rivers, breathing hard up the final uphill to the small village of Villa Amengual. I passed a hand painted sign for the Refugio Para Cicilista but we hoped to find better lodging for the night. We dripped around a small supermarcado with well stocked shelves. After knocking on several the bed and breakfasts we were disheartened to find there was no room at any inn.

Wet and close to hypothermic we headed to the Refugio. Once again Pablo and Annibal welcomed us with their big grins.

“Come in. There is a wood stove.” We entered a basic room, their bikes on one wall and mattresses on the floor. I held my wet back to warm stove.

“Come and meet the owner Inis. She lives across the hallway.”

            “Hola! Make your selves at home,” she said beaming. “Yes I have hot shower. You can dry your stuff by the stove. I thought I was going to be on my own tonight. I will make a meal for you all.” Her place was so minimal I was touched by her kindness.

Clive headed back to the supermarket and returned with champagne, Chilean Merlot and snacks.  Meanwhile, Lean and Manuel, Argentinian cyclists who we had met a week ago as they emerged from under their night under a bridge, joined us.  We were with five cyclists, from Chile, Buenos Aires, Rio, Inis and her teenage son. Warm and dry we shared wine, laughter, chatting in Spanish and English. Wonderful aromas came from Inis’s kitchen as she and her son cooked. We sunk our teeth into juicy ribs, chicken, salads and the finest lemon meringue pie. To round off the night, Pablo played the guitar and sang Chilean folk songs.   

Christmas Day after a delicious breakfast, we hugged Inis goodbye. Basking in her Chilean  generosity we rode through the stunning Lago Torres Reserve with wild tall trees and snow covered peaks, our hearts full of gratitude for the true spirit of Christmas.

On our return we celebrated Clive’s 70 birthday with a family back country ski in perfect weather. Then a party.  It was great that we all got together for this milestone.

The year continued with trips, canoeing down the Red Deer with Andrew and Shona in the May long weekend, hikes and backpacking here. 

Clive went to Greenland with his friend Douglas, Andrea, and their son Leif. The trip was cut short when Leif had a serious problem with his one eye and had to rush back to medical care in Edinburgh via Reykjavik.

I met Clive in Scotland. I had a wonderful day with my niece and her three kids 9, 7 and 5  hiking their very first Munro – as Scottish mountains over 3000 feet are called. It was an international day with my nephew in law’s mom, Glynis and his brother, Kevin from South Africa. The kids were amazing – and romped up and down the mountain with hardly any complaints - impressive.

Then we were off to North Berwick for a beach day with my other two nieces and their 4 boys.

“I am loving this 110%” said 7 year old Lewis searching for crabs under the seaweed.

“I am 100% bored” said 5 year old Lucas.  They had a great time climbing on the ancient walls of Tantallon Castle – a place of intense fighting 600 years or so ago – now surrounded with peaceful fields and looks over to the Bass Rock surrounded by swooping gannets.

After a five day sail around Mull with Douglas Anderson and time with friends, Clive and I took off to the French Pyrenees for a wee 15 day hiked. It was fantastic.

In spring Chris spent a month in Tibet on a ski trip – you can watch his adventure “Higher Truths” by Salomon TV.

He followed this with 10 days trekking in Nepal then headed to Sri Lanka surf vacation. He and his girlfriend Jesse visited us in Oct on their way to the Baha. There was a big snow storm here. The roads were horrendous but they were on a mission and left with 6 inches of snow on their surf boards. Fortunately they made it to Calgary and then south where the roads improved. They looked very relaxed on their return 5 weeks later.

Shona and Andrew are enjoying living in Kimberly. She is an Environmental Officer monitoring water contaminated by the disused mine.  We had some good times with them walking around their beautiful mountain town that is much quieter than this part of the world.

We plan to stay home this winter apart from a short trip in January to stay with a friend in Arizona and visit a Mexican Dentist!!

As the days shorten, the temperature drops we are enjoying the eating, skiing, skating and friendship season.  

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Strong Women

I surround myself with strong women, women who have broken the chains of their oppressive pasts, their insecurity and their toxic culture. 

Women who embrace their remarkable bodies that come in all shapes and sizes; who reject the demand that only bodies shaped like barbie dolls are valued; who stretch, breathe deeply, and lovingly respect the temples their bodies are. 

Women who delve into the darkness of their shadows, the emotional pustules that suppurate in their minds stealing their power, their strength and their dreams; who confront the painful wounds that keep them stuck as if a steel umbilical cord is tied to their pasts.

As we women cry, rage the dragons and monsters within transform into friendly helpers, each with rich gifts, ready to support us at every turn on the bumpy road ahead.

Women around the globe seek to connect to their inner light and out of the ashes of patriarchy delicate shoots emerge with strong roots that delve deep into the recesses of mother earth. This new growth withstands the storms and the heavy brutish footsteps trying to eliminate the light. These resilient women serve as beacons for other souls lost in the toxicity of victimhood.

Friday, June 23, 2017

The yoga lounge is a place

………………..where I am known by name

………………..where I am breathed

 ……………… puddle into juicy spots

…………………to feel the fear and do it anyway

…………………to feel vulnerability and strength

……………… let go of possessions and titles

……………… live in the moment

……………… connect to all that is

………………..of friendship and yoga-coffee

                                 A place of peace and grace

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Unwanted Passengers

“Until the lion learns to write every story will glorify the hunter.” African Proverb
Mr Criticism and Mr Anxiety two thickset bullies catch up with me as I drive toward the jagged Rocky Mountains. After facilitating a two day Conflict Resolution workshop for fifteen people for the Calgary Board of Education, I am content. I enjoyed young Devon 18 from Calgary and Kumar from India who ran his own business, spent many years in Japan and spoke several languages. He brought in a box of Robins donuts while another participant brought coffee. A first in my experience.

I watch the flaming sunset illumine the ridges, my hands on the steering wheel, my foot soft on the accelerator as a wave of exhaustion spreads across my eyes, weighs on my shoulders and abdomen.  My thoughts churn.  Anxiety is in the backseat while Criticism sits bolt upright, towering over me in the passenger seat. I jump when he jabs his spiky fingers into my right shoulder blade.

I know these two fellows well. They have been acquaintances of mine for as long as I can remember. The more I chase them away with pitchforks and hand grenades the more they pounce on me when I let my defences down.  “How did you terrorists sneak into my car?” I ask.

With a sneer, criticism the smart Alex replies, “What’s the matter with you? I thought you’d be pleased to have company on the way home. We’ll keep you awake.”

“Actually I am not happy. The last thing I need is your company.” I replied.

“Don’t you know you’re mother gave me the job of accompanying you through your life, so here I am,” anxiety chimes in.

As I pass fields with golden hay bales, they frisk me and suck out any remaining joy. Criticism carries on his relentless tirade, “Why did you tell that dumb story about your eleven month old daughter jumping out of her crib. That has nothing to do with conflict in the workplace.” He drains me of any feelings of wellbeing.

Anxiety chirps in, “How much money did you make? You spent over a week preparing for the two day workshop.”

“You spend all your time writing and creating workshops because you love it.  Wilma how many times have I told you, you need a real job, one that pays? You’ll end up a bag lady with a shopping trolley, roaming Calgary’s frozen street ,” criticism continues.

Shivering I cower into my seat.  Then something in me snaps. “Enough,” I yell. “How dare you berate me like that?  You two have sucked enough of my life energy. It’s time for you to walk.” I pull over onto the shoulder, open the door and turf them onto the frozen verge.

“After all we have done to help you, how can you be so mean to us?” they whined.

“You can think about how to change your ways on the walk back to Canmore.” I said. I slammed the door and began to sing, “Joy to the world, all the boys and girls.”  Lightness spread like a wave across my body as I began to nod my head to the music.

Then I heard another couple of voices, melodic tones as if from angels. I looked around. There to my astonishment beaming at me, were two young women with olive skin, and dark brown eyes.  “Where did you come from?” I asked.

“We have been sitting here all the time. I am curiosity and this is my dear friend enthusiasm. Those two bullies drowned out our soft voices. We love to accompany you on your adventures,” Ms. curiosity replied.

“We hang out in your writing room and whisper words of encouragement.  We are totally present when you lose track of time and spend hours in preparation fascinated by presenting your material in a more meaningful way.” Ms Encouragement added.

And the three of us sang all the way to Canmore.