Covid-19 birthday print trade celebration.

A 3 day storytelling/art-sharing celebration

Every year in April I celebrate my birthday with gratitude by giving away prints, saying thanks, and throwing a dancing party.

This year we are learning the dimensions of our need for connection and simple acts like waving at our neighbors during walks or exchanging looks at the store can save us from our yearning for human contact. The visions of the past when we all dance next to each other and exchange hugs and kisses now would feel like such a social overindulgence, such an act of transgression. This pandemic will remind us all of the things we take for granted and hopefully make us more grateful and present.

At least for now we have the internet and the Postal Service, so in an effort to learn to adapt I’m celebrating my birthday Covid-19 style with an online party and hoping for hugging, kissing and dancing some time in the future.

A pre-pandemic celebration usually goes like this: you come to my studio, write or draw a story and trade it for one of my prints hanging on a clothesline. Now, in times of social distancing this exchange will be indirect, but hopefully still fun to do. I’m sure that with all the introspection we all have been forced to experience, there are incredible stories to share.

For this event I am creating a special print and trading it for “Pandemic-quarantine-social distancing” stories.

I really hope we overcome our akwardness and free ourselves to share and connect, here are 3 different ways we can trade.

1. A story for a Bday print.

Share a story on the comments, go to my shop and “buy” a Bday print for $1 and pay for shipping costs. I wish I can just give it to you but sadly, I’m struggling too. The price is just to cover material costs.

2. Stories for discounted prints

Share a story in the comments of this page (very bottom of this page), go to my shop  or Etsy store and enter the code “45bday” to get a coupon for 20% off on any print, I will send you a birthday print as well.

3. Stories for postcards

If you don’t wish to buy a print then just share a story in the comments (very bottom of this page) and I will send you a postcard.

I believe that we show our humanity during times of adversity and we remind each other that there is room for hope in the future. If you have a story that made you feel good during this Pandemic and would like to share it.  Let’s trade!!!

The event will run from April 19 to April 21 (my birthday)

Check out the Submitted Stories Below, or Submit your own in the comments box at the very bottom of the page:

36 thoughts on “Covid-19 birthday print trade celebration.”

  1. In the Fall (2019), I moved to Ann Arbor to attend The University of Michigan. As the first person in my family to go to college, this was a huge deal for me, both being accepted to the university and moving away from Grand Rapids. The first semester was challenging socially, as I am a first-gen, non-traditional college student. I came back to GR almost every weekend and it felt like my life was split in two: My academic/professional life in Ann Arbor and my personal/family life in Grand Rapids. It was really challenging but I pushed through. When Winter semester started, I made a goal to meet more people and really try to build community in Ann Arbor. I made a point to introduce myself to other students and actually started having people to hang out with on the weekends in Ann Arbor. Everything was going really well academically, socially, and I was excelling at my job working in an after-school program for AAPS. I was finally starting to feel comfortable in my new community. Then I came back from Spring Break and COVID 19 took over the world. I lost my job working in the after-school program the moment public schools closed. That same day, the university announced that they were closing campus and all of our classes would move online. The university encouraged everyone that could move back home to do so, and so the community I had just created disappeared into thin air. And of the friends that did remain, social distancing/quarantine/shelter in place meant we could not hang out. I asked my landlord if I could get out of my lease so I could move back to GR for the summer to save money (Ann Arbor is an OBSCENELY expensive place to live). He said no. I felt very frustrated and trapped. Luckily I was able to reduce my rent by doing yardwork/landscaping around my house for my landlord, but that really only helps so much. I am spending the majority of April in Grand Rapids with my boyfriend and family. I do feel better being here at home than in Ann Arbor, but the uncertainty of this entire situation is really depressing and difficult. I was especially challenged by this situation as I had just moved and beginning to feel comfortable in my new home and routine, just for it to be taken away overnight. I know I am still lucky to have my health, a roof over my head, my friends and family, etc. I am very grateful for the security I do have. All the same, COVID 19 upended my life and I am not sure when or how things will go back to “normal”. Here’s to hoping for the best for all of us. May you find some peace in comfort in this challenging time. Be well.

    • Hi June !!! So good to hear from you even under the circumstances. I’m sorry to hear about losing what you were building in AA. That sounds really tough. And the whole rent situation is an unnecessary and infuriating distraction. I’m glad to hear that you can be home, though, with loved ones. I also recently moved back home in January from Wisconsin and don’t even want to imagine the alternative had I decided to stay there another year. It’s been really great being home with my parents and being able to support each other. You can see my mom’s (Kathy) response below.
      So funny seeing your name in the comments thinking, “hey ! I know that name.”
      I hope you continue to be well in all of life’s uncertainties.

  2. Happy bEarthday, Alynn!!! Thank you for this prompt because I’ve been meaning to write this story for some time now. I’ve meant it as more of an essay, but we’ll see if it can take more of a story figure. This will be the intro (to get started) to a longer version of what I was originally planning. If you like it, I can send you the longer version when it’s done. Consider this a teaser. =)
    In the not so distant past, I was living in a small town in the Driftless Region of Wisconsin. This is a region of many legends, where one river that flows into the Mississippi, the Kickapoo, is said to be the oldest watershed in the world, due to this wild creature never being disturbed by the great glacial periods of long ago. These fantastic glaciers, for some mysterious reason, never crossed the boundaries that make up this Driftless Region, never having dropped their “drift,” and thus leaving an ancient land with many stories to tell, if only one can understand the language that speaks. Some people call this place one of Earth’s several chakras, which is evident from the energy that exudes from all around, from all “people”: human, plant, animal, river, microbe, mountain, air. The Kickapoo, who were likely some of the first to tell these stories, are primarily a people of the human variety. As for the river, the Kickapoo is said to mean, “one who goes here and one who goes there,” to describe its winding and curious character. This is as much a story about the Kickapoo River as it is about CoViD-19 and how they affect our lives, as they both give rise to different kinds of floods. One is the kind that we’re familiar with, the other is what Margaret Atwood describes as the “waterless flood.” This story is not really about floods, though, but more about what comes alive in us during these floods. This enlivened creature can be seen as a monster, one who terrorizes our every thought, and so, our every action. But monsters were never meant to be treacherous or scary. Their harsh edges and contorted bodies are only transformed to such when we are resisting some truth, some opportunity for change, some revealing nature, something deep below the surface. We have actually never been afraid of the monsters themselves, only to what they are telling us about our inner nature and the uncomfortable feeling of transformation. This is thus a story about those “wild things” that keep us awake at night. Who are these monsters that slumber in us during the day and try to awaken our spirits at night, to deliver some important message from the underworld that comes from an ancient past that is soon forgotten?

  3. Someone was hospitalized for COVID at the hospital where my husband works. After a long time of being very sick and relying on a ventilator, the patient recovered and was rehabilitated enough to return home to their family. When it came time for the patient to leave the hospital, all the hospital staff lined up through the hallways and entrance to cheer for the patient’s recovery and departure, and to celebrate the patient being reunited with their family, who were waiting outside the entrance, at the end of the lineup. It was a very moving moment for everyone involved and a beacon of hope for those battling COVID, both as patients and healthcare workers.

    • that’s a beautiful story, this crisis seems to have brought the best out in most of the people.
      Hope you are staying safe and healthy and thank your husband for his hard work keeping our community safe.

  4. Covid19 has brought strange, difficult, frustrating, sad as well as inspiring, caring, and especially connecting times: ..hearing especially immigrant folks express anxiety about loss of income and supports for rent and food while many in our community are responding with sharing, advocating; .. kids and parents anxious about schools shut while they are inventing their own lessons and teachers are rallying to join in … our son just happens to be living with us now so we have live in technical and house cleaning out support with a little more time to do it ….. our uncle David, 93, who just died of Covid19 in MA but more likely of isolation which has connected us more with his partner, Zev, of many years, digitally………… keeps going on……….hopefully with this Earth day inspiration to care for and sustain the healthy connections.

    • Hi Kathy, I’m so sorry to hear about your uncle, but happy to know that it strengthened other relationships. Hang in there friend. Recive lots of virtual hugs from us.

  5. There was always a bit of formality and strain in my dad’s extended family. I had a dream once, right after my grandmother died, that she dropped by my house for a casual, unannounced visit, bringing cookies. It was a shocking dream. Not because we didn’t get together with her. We did. For holidays. For occasions. And, there was great food. And, people were on good behavior. It was an unsettling dream because of the ease, because of the lack of ‘occasion.’ It made me more and more sad, the more I thought about it.

    There are patterns that get perpetuated in families. I noticed this right away when I got married, and found that my father-in-law ‘landed’ in our house most days. Sometimes, we weren’t even home. I’d come home and discover him in the living room, having built a fire in the stove, or on the front porch, having helped himself to a beer out of the fridge. Weird. At first it stressed me out. I felt like I needed to entertain him. After some years, I realized I didn’t. I could stop and chat for a while, or…. I could go take a shower if I needed to. I could EVEN ask him to watch the kids while I ran out to do an errand.

    Phone calls were different. I once had to firmly tell Paul that he could not call, just to check in or chat, between the hours of 7-8am, while Aaron was traveling, because that was ‘go’ time, and it took every moment and bit of energy I could muster to get the kids out the door to childcare and me to work on time.

    But all in all, I began to crave the informality. I began to crave family phone calls that DIDN’T include the words, “so, what it the progress report?” I started to shift my own invitations: last minute (hours ahead) dinner invitations to my folks for one course no-frills meals, random unannounced visits to their house on bike rides, texts with pictures of the kids, or asking if they want something from the market, or something I made. The informality has started to feel more and more normal over ten years.

    Enter COVID. It’s been hard. I’m a hugger, and that now feels evil. Our family businesses have taken massive and stressful hits. But my dad called yesterday morning, just to let me know he loved me and was thinking of me, and that he “wanted to hear my voice.” And then, he dropped by, leaving a random, no-special-occasion offering of my favorite cheeses on the front porch. And I cried. It was normal. And stunning.

  6. Happy Birthday Alynn!

    One day not that long ago, though sometimes it feels like ages ago, a woman in her late twenties was going through a rough patch in her life. She had just moved back to the States from Latin America after a heartbreaking end to her time there. She was overwhelmed, anxious, lonely and quite honestly a bit traumatized by her time working in Christian ministry. For nearly a year she made no new friends, she stuck close to the people she knew and trusted and tried to find ways to heal. She went to therapy weekly. She couldn’t get a job because whenever she went to interview she was so full of angst that she could barely answer simple questions. Her mom was able to get her a job at a greenhouse because she also worked there. People told her, “the plants will heal you.” “That’s a load of bullshit,” the woman thought. For 40 hours per week (minus a few hours the one day a week she had to leave early for therapy) she toiled over tiny seedlings week after week, watching them grow. She then moved out of the greenhouse and started selling the plants she had toiled over for many weeks. The plants were beautiful by then, big and colorful. All she could think about is where they came from and how she had gotten to see their development over time. She began to realize that the flowers had aided immensely in her healing process. She saw hope in tiny little plants and knew they could come to life with a little love and care. Watching the plants grow and become something so beautiful and full of life gave her hope for herself and she began to feel joy again. She started finding courage to make friends in the midst of discovering a love for flowers. One early summer evening a friend of a friend invited her to a Jazz concert at an artist loft on Division. The artist hosting the musical event was Hugo Claudin. That night the woman made several acquaintances, one of which would become one of her closest friends. Over the course of that summer the community attached to that artist loft would be come her community and a part of her healing.

    You never know what might come of a random visit to an artist loft with a friend you barely know.

  7. I am not the best story teller but here we go!

    I have been living alone as I finish my masters degree. While I am exceptionally privileged to be able to work from home, I try to do my part to flatten the curve by not going out-instead spending my days at home. From my window in my garden level apartment I have the best view of a local gas station. I’ve been writing in a journal and one of the things that I document daily is the price of gas-as the weeks have ticked by in solitude I have watched the illuminated numbers drop lower and lower. I have barely left my apartment the last 5 weeks with my only companion being a rather rotund feline. While I spend my days checking reports, editing citation styles, and scanning limited job openings, she spends them sunbathing. While I grapple with gut wrenching uncertainty, loneliness, and guilty, she merely demands her daily treats. While I wish I could adopt my cat’s breezy approach to life, it simply doesn’t work when one reads the news.

    In many ways being alone through this has made me spend some much needed quality time with myself. I have questioned who I am and what I want out of life more today than I have in years.I’ve learned to like myself and have begun to enjoy my own company. Between course work and online classes I spend my days perfecting my bread recipe and packing, because come May, my lease is up and I get to move to be with my partner after being apart for the last 8 months. While the future is uncertain I think back to last year when I interviewed my grandmother for a qualitative course project. Being a woman who went through her own hardships as a child growing up in the Depression, and then World War II she adopted a view of life of quiet resilience. In that interview I asked her about any advice that she could give me and she said “Today might be a bad day, and tomorrow might be worse, but the day after will be better.” That phrase alone has gotten me through dark times and I hope it can offer the same comfort to others.

    I appreciate the chance to share my experience through this, it may seem mundane but I am grateful that this is my reality. One day things will be better.

  8. Silver linings. That is my story. This outbreak is horrible in so may ways, and yet we get learn new ways to connect with family and friends. We appreciate the small things. Planting a garden. Walking the dogs. Lazy morning routines. Watering the garden. Empty streets. Clear skies. Reset.

Go ahead, share your story...