Secrets from With/out Pretend: Winter is Coming
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October 2018

Winter is Coming

"Perhaps loneliness is the real proof that we belong to something greater than ourselves, the way absence is proof of what was once a presence."
—Anne Michaels, Infinite Gradation

When the leaves start to turn, something in me shifts, too. I'm happiest in transitory moments between extremes when I have just long enough to take a quick breath, to experience the states of reflection and anticipation at the same time. In those narrow spaces that, if you pay attention, exist between opposites.

I didn't send you a note last month. My September was nearly swallowed whole by an ongoing fleet of cold symptoms. I spent the summer saying yes to so many things because I wanted to be everything to everyone and everywhere at once, and in response to my ambitious (and perhaps arrogant) plans, my body decided to shut itself down.

For most of my life, September was my favourite month — hot days leading into cool nights, shopping for school supplies, a cue to dream of all the ways "this year will be different."

Now, though, September is the month that leads into October, and October will forever be the month my brother died, now nine years ago. I've written before about his death and my grief in short snippets, and in fact, I wrote about this same subject in last October’s newsletter. I often work through these feelings in my writing, the way all of us (whether we’re writers or not) will circle back to those bigger, life-altering experiences again and again until we can fully process our feelings, the residual effects, the universal significance of these events within the larger context of our existence. Maybe your pivotal moment was also a loss — maybe it was a marriage or divorce, a move, graduation, or job, the feat of giving birth, surviving an act of violence. Maybe it was a less obvious moment, though: a conversation, a small kindness, an important book, a beautiful sunset.

These are the moments that shift everything else, the whole world tilts ever so slightly, but you’re the only one to notice. I used to look forward to September, but now as late August rushes by I am swept by a consuming sadness that, despite its predictable mark on the calendar every year, seems to creep up without warning. It's as if my body remembers a feeling that my mind takes much longer to perceive.

Are you into tarot? I've been a huge fan of writer and astrologer Liz Worth's newsletter for a while, and yesterday I pulled up a spread she created for the new moon in Virgo last month. It asks, to start: "What lesson am I ready to put to use?" I wasn’t surprised when I pulled the Hanged Man — a card I've grown to appreciate although my first instinct is still to cringe when I see it; there's nothing I like less than the idea of being "stuck." But this card is not negative. The Hanged Man asks us to press pause — but also to shift our perspective, to look at things differently. For me, this almost always translates to a reminder to give myself a break, to take stock of the many things I have accomplished despite how many things I still need to “get done,” and to respect the gift of stillness when it’s presented, even in the form of melancholy or cold symptoms.

The line of Anne Michaels' poetry that opens this note reminds me that sadness is merely the other side of joy. Without taking time to be still, to reflect, and to heal — I may lose sight of the intention behind the work I’m doing. The turning of the leaves signals that winter is coming, but also, that it will soon be spring.

New in The Vault
Written by Aley Waterman, Illustrated by Julianna Brion
You heard it here first. Aley Waterman is a fiction writer everyone is gonna be nuts about in a little while from now, and she'll be on all the lists, and v cool in the New York Times and such, and we'll be like, YEAH WE ALREADY KNOW. These three stories about nagging feelings are illustrated by the brilliant Julianna Brion, whose work actually has been in the New York Times. When everything else in your day is either boring or a dumpster fire, why wouldn't you treat yourself to a little feel-good art? 
November 2, 2018
Nurture x With/out Pretend
Harvest Table Dinner
We're collaborating with our friends at Nurture for a Harvest Table Dinner in Toronto, where Sonja will be creating a menu inspired by With/out Pretend.

Erin will also be sharing about her journey building this company, including the story of how and why we built our new digital magazine, The Vault. There will be feelings and food aplenty! 
Thanks for joining us at
The Vault: A Launch Party
On October 3rd, we threw a party to celebrate the launch of The Vault with all of our friends & supporters at the beautiful Queen Books.

That night, we were lucky to hear stories from Margeaux Feldman, Faith Arkorful, Hana Shafi and Aley Waterman, plus a conversation with Hana moderated by Ameema Saeed of the With/out Pretend team. 

Thank you to everyone who joined us for such a lovely evening of feelings & friends. Save the date for our next event, December 2nd at the Burdock
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