Stoic Week 2019 begins tomorrow, and it’s not too late to sign up. It’s a free program and I’ve taken part for the last few years.
I enjoy all the readings and self-reflection that are built into the program, and I think I am generally happier because of it. I know that I like myself much more as I age, and this is due in no small part to not trying to control every situation, which is sort of Stoicism 101:
“One of the main strategies that runs through both Stoicism and this handbook is that of distinguishing between things that are under your control and things that are not. The Stoics believed that this takes training to do well but that it’s the key to self-discipline and overcoming emotional disturbances. Maintaining this distinction between what is and isn’t under your control requires continual attention to your own thoughts and judgements. We can describe this as a kind of ‘mindfulness’ practice. You’ll build upon this foundation by exploring different Stoic concepts and techniques each day throughout the course of the week.” Excerpt From: Modern Stoicism. “Stoic Week 2019 Handbook”. Apple Books.
My life as a carer means I need to also take care of myself, but that’s not something I or most other carers do well. Stoic Week is a short burst of study and practice that helps me build resilience and critical thinking. Tell Seneca I sent you.
Dropped by the Elections Canada office at the County Fair Mall yesterday afternoon to find out how to arrange a mail-in ballot for my mother for the October 21 federal election. We did this for the spring provincial election and it eliminated a lot of stress for us like potentially having to travel to the polls in poor weather or standing in long lines.
Two extremely efficient and pleasant women greeted me. All I had to do was give them my mother’s name and mailing address and they would arrange for a voting package to be mailed to her. We were done in a couple of minutes and I stood up to leave.
The woman who took my mother’s information asked me if I would like to vote. I thought she was asking if I intended to vote, but she said she meant I could vote right then and there. I had time, there was no one else in the office, so I gave her my ID, she consulted a computer list, and handed me a ballot.
It was a blank ballot, with just a line on it, no names or little circles to mark. She directed me to the standard white cardboard screen voting booth. Taped to the inside was a list of the four confirmed candidates for my riding in alphabetical order. I was to write the name of my choice on the ballot with the little pencil that was in the booth.
I wrote in my choice, exited the booth, folded the ballot, placed it in an envelope, sealed that envelope with one of those wand-like water-filled sponge envelope sealers, placed that envelope into another envelope, which I signed, dated and sealed, and placed that envelope in a ballot box.
Interesting to note that nominations only close on Monday, September 30, so there is a possibility someone else will come forward before that date. As the four candidates on the list represented the main Canadian parties, I can’t imagine I would have changed my vote anyway, but it is too late to worry about that now.
I wondered afterwards if voting this way would be possible for someone who couldn’t write, for example, but it seems as though Elections Canada has addressed this and many other potential challenges already, and have developed excellent materials that can be shared to educate people on the many accessible voting options.
Steven voted as well, and as I waited for him to finish, the other woman showed me the ballot package she had prepared for my mother. Once the printed ballots were ready, it would be popped in the mail, my mother could vote, and we would either drop her envelope in the mail or take it into their office.
It kind of felt like an “only in PEI” type of thing, very loose and easy, but now that I look it up they were following Elections Canada guidelines for a special ballot.
While many people in the world face huge barriers to casting their vote, I was made to feel like my vote mattered, that accommodating me was the most important job those women had. How lucky we are.
Top Internet searches across Atlantic Canada today will probably be for terms like “Dorian” and “what is an emergency kit again?” as we scramble to remove potential outdoor projectiles and gather supplies as a hurricane speeds northward.
The trend bots might note a strange blip in the area around Tyne Valley this morning as those who knew Dr. Joyce Madigane awaken to the news that former Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe has died. You didn’t need to know Dr. Madigane well or for long to find out her feelings about her former countryman. She wasn’t a fan, to put it mildly.
I remember one of the last conversations I had with her in 2013. Mugabe must have been in the news for some outrageous thing or another (there were too many to recall), and I had asked for her thoughts. She told me what a hero he had been as a freedom fighter against white rule in Rhodesia, and lamented that his intelligence and boundless energy had later been used to oppress those he had fought to free, all while enriching himself and his family. She said wryly that he would outlive us all.
He did outlive Dr. Madigane, who died in 2014, so she didn’t get to see him unrepentantly resign in 2017 (or the sweet deals he and his family received for him stepping aside). She was too kind and professional to ever wish anyone ill, but I can’t help wondering how she would have been feeling today.
The header image on my homepage comes from showyourstripes.info and represents the annual average temperatures for Canada from 1901-2018 using data from Berkeley Earth. Similar images can be generated for other regions or the whole planet. From their FAQ page:
“These ‘warming stripe’ graphics are visual representations of the change in temperature as measured in each country over the past 100+ years. Each stripe represents the temperature in that country averaged over a year. For most countries, the stripes start in the year 1901 and finish in 2018. For the UK, USA, Switzerland & Germany, the data starts in the late 19th century.“
The one for the entire globe using data from 1850-2018 is even more striking. Will I be around long enough to see the cooler shades return?