Alexandra Writers Centre Society
ONLINE Writing The Seasons
Tuesdays10am-12pm June 8, 2021 (4 weeks)
Our life patterns journey around in cycles and spirals. The season’s rhythms summer, fall, winter, and spring provide inspiration for self-reflection, to celebrate personal insights, enhance our creativity, claim our unique wisdom and unlock our muse. This will enrich our lives, nourish and develop our courage as writers.
This is an interactive online class using the Zoom web platform.
Manage Your 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.
Friday 7th May 1.00pm -4.00pm

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 4th 11th June 2021 9.00 - 4.00pm

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, August 25, 2008

My relationship with animals

I have never been a true animal lover. My childhood goldfish jumped out of his bowl. Our guinea pig ate his way out of his cage. His bedraggled corpse discovered months later under the dripping hedge in our neighbours garden. The family wild cat Bilbo was given to a farm where it was rumoured he devoured seagulls. A year after my father died, I the level headed eleven year old calmly buried the dead hamster in the humid soil in our urban garden while my blond mother and curly haired sister were incapacitated with hysterics and grief.

Many, many years later I visited a friend in San Francisco and reluctantly announced, “I am thinking of going back to Australia to sell our house.” “I can get you a ticket on air miles. When do you want to go?” Rob enthusiastically replied reaching for his laptop. My mind spun, a free ticket. I was hesitant. I was not at all convinced I wanted to give up my lifeline to Australia and commit to Canada’s frozen prairie. To help me cope with the rigors of Canadian winters, I had been dabbling in New Age philosophy. The belief that everything is interconnected and the premise is that invisible forces or spirits that affect our lives pervades the visible world. Animals act as omens and message-bearers and each of us have animal spirit guides. I had long given up on the God of my childhood coming to my rescue. In my indecision I asked the universe for a sign. Early in the morning, the dew hung on the long grass, as the water tinkled in the pond I walked in my friends small waterfront garden suffused with the smell of eucalyptus, there on the grass was a perfect white egret feather, its long spidery tendrils waving in the breeze.
Back in Canada the February weekend before I flew reluctantly to Australia my husband Clive and I skied up to Skogan Pass in minus twenty weather. A golden eagle flew out of the tall pine tree. Eagle was my totem animal and according to Native Americans symbolized vision, the ability to see hidden spiritual truths, strength, connection to spirit, courage, intuition, and creativity.
Four year previously when I came to Canada in 1990 I constantly wore some thunderbird earrings. I was apprehensive around my stepping into teaching Conflict Resolution and Parenting, putting myself out there as an expert. The Scottish patriarchs had ensured I was a child who was seen and not heard. Their loud voice resonated in my head assuring me it was absolute audacity to think that I knew a better way of raising children, using strategies that treated them with dignity and respect and sought to understand their behaviours in terms of what they were feeling, thinking and deciding. Those dangling pewter thunderbirds brought me courage. There on the snows of Kananaskis, the eagle reassured me my trip to Australia to sell up was the best decision for me. Still the patriarch in my mind laughed outright that I should believe such nonsense that birds were messengers.

A few years later I facilitated a course called Mountain Madness to help women connect with the environment and their individual spirituality. Nine of us sat around in a circle meditating under the flanks of Mount Kidd in Kananaskis, a humming bird flew out of the forest as straight as an arrow and almost hit my back. Later that summer humming birds came to me twice. I looked up my animal medicine cards and read that humming birds meant joy. Their visitations felt like a miracle.

My life moved on busy with teenagers, work and city life. In the spring of 1999 I phoned my sister Ruth, in Scotland and was distraught to find out that she was sick. My family never wanted to disturb me my telling me the bad stuff. A week later, her sickness was diagnosed as kidney and lung cancer. The weekend before I left Canada to visit her I walked toward Vermillion Lakes, five minutes into the forest twenty feet above my head there was a screech owl. It chattered away to me for at least ten minutes. Then in Scotland driving to my sisters home I caught a glimpse of an owl flying away from a telegraph pole. A few weeks later my sister left us, her body buried under the gargoyle in the ancient churchyard. Owls represent the messenger between the worlds, wisdom, shape shifting, and reincarnation. The screech owl in particular gave me the wisdom to see beyond a mask worn and have the ability to share this insight with the person for whom the information had been gleaned. Owls are associated with the transformation of the soul’s journey and the recurring cycle of life. It is believed that the soul as an eternal spark of energy chooses to inhabit a body to learn life lessons, once these have been learned and absorbed, and then the soul transitions out of this physical plane as pure energy. Trust was the word that jumped off the page at me at this very difficult time in my life when I was confronted with terminal illness. That spring I discovered how painful it was to witness my beloved sister’s physical disintegration.

A couple of years later my niece Jane phoned, “My mother, Dorothy is in hospital, has had an blood clot in her leg and she has pancreatic cancer.” I was once again confronted with life and death. I sought support from my friend Lesley- Anne. We walked through the comforting trees in the Weaselhead, a Calgary wild area. She listened and helped me decide to return to Scotland as soon as possible. Under the wide blue Alberta sky we sat on a bench by the still waters of the river, much to my amazement I was surrounded by a flock of Chickadees. Although we were sitting side by side they twittered around me and kept their distance from Lesley. That night I read in my medicine card book that chickadees “appear to us when we need help telling the truth from fiction. If you witness a Chickadee when listening to advice, or sharing from your heart know the truth was spoken. Let Chickadee show the truth within your heart, so that you can trust your actions in life.” I felt comforted as once again I with a heavy heart boarded a plane to Scotland. A couple of months later my second sister was buried under the huge beech tree in the cemetery at bottom of her garden and I experienced profound loss and grief.
My relationship with animals has come a long way from my distant association with my childhood pets. Life has provided many challenges. Last year in my new home in Canmore with its majestic views of the mountains I was visited by a green iridescent humming bird. Many mornings I sat on my cedar deck waiting for this delicate creature that has the unbelievable ability to migrate thousands of miles. As I watched it suck nectar from my purple beebalm I felt irrepressible joy and gratitude for the magic of being alive.

The measure of my succes is my joy

Success is the highlighted word on my colourful well being card as I write with my write on sisters, Kim, Christie and Barb, in Barbs welcoming living room with sweeping views of the slate grey Lady Macdonald framed in the lime green birch leaves. The theme and passionate dialogue tonight has been journaling, journey and joy.

This afternoon I read quote by Satish Kumar in my journal with the intricate orange and gold Celtic design from the Book of Kells, “The journey is more interesting than the destination.” This idea of process not the end point being critical was reinforced for me years ago when I watched Tibetan monks create a detailed sand mandala. Focused on the present moment they poured red, yellow, green, and blue sands into a harmonious circular geometrical pattern. This procedure may take several mustard clad monks several days. Accompanied by resonant spiritual chanting their work of art is released into the ocean or a river. I was astonished that anyone would put in so much effort only to destroy the end product. This was an alien concept for me. I still have the stunted ashtrays I made in a pottery class 30 years ago. I have resisted words like surrender, letting go and detachment.

Twenty years ago my spiritual neighbour in Sydney Australia, after one our may metaphysical discussions, said to me, “It’s all about surrender Wilma.” My jaw tightened as I replied, “Oh that doesn’t work for me.”

Two decades later I feel lightness seep into my being as I let go of my expectations and judgements of my success or lack of it. It feels such a relief to have cast off the task of saving the world inherited from my religious parents, and to have resigned as mistress of universe. I have replaced these outmoded beliefs with the possibility of following my bliss as directed by the great American anthropologist Joseph Campbell.

Was it naïve of me to expect following my bliss to be easy? This week as I though of my young niece Amy in the intensity and chaos of labour I wept for her, I wept for the loss of her mother my sister, and I wept for my own long dead mother.

To honour the steps of my journey is to respect the authenticity of my human emotion, to be grounded in the present with tensions bubbling up in my abdomen, chest and shoulders. To walk my joyful path with integrity means I will experience my feelings just like the weather of all the four seasons, spring, summer, fall and winter. Success does not only come in the warm summer breezes, it is present as the autumn leaves float to the ground, as the geese honk south, as the river sculpts itself into chiselled ice blocks, and as the purple prairie crocus re-emerges in the spring.


The grey Rockies are capped in fluffy clouds. The mellow Bow River slides by silently. A red shirted runner runs around our bench. A lady in blue shorts throws sticks for her white Labrador who shakes river water all over my writing buddy and I. Flies buzz, flickers call from the pine trees, crow caws raucously as we chat about our recent experiences.

Barb has just returned from Sage Hill writer’s retreat in Saskatchewan. She loves the prairie, the people and the writing.

I have just completed a challenging bike ride from Jasper to Whitefish, Montana, and the only woman rider in a party of 8 cyclists. I feel exhilarated by literally pushing beyond my limits, long uphills, strong headwinds and rainstorms.

We are both enriched by our accomplishments. Our lives fully embodied, swelling with rich memories like the rosehips spilling over the river. Like the rosehips not yet red, we are still in process and have not yet reached our full potential as creative writers. As with the maturing rosehips, new seeds have been sewn within, and are being nurtured with the light of self-affirmation, the water of dedication, and hard work of chlorophyll that supplies the food for continued growth.

The challenges and obstacles in our lives have brought rich insights. The death of my two sisters who followed the rules and did what was expected, gave their power to the doctors as cancer ate their bodies. From this I learned it is my time to live, time to take on challenges, and take responsibility for my physical, spiritual, mental and emotional health. Integration comes in the acceptance of obstacles, and appreciating these as opportunities to stretch and expand.