Make it your 30th birthday and chances are you’ll receive a card with black balloons telling you it’s going downhill from there.

What couldn’t be further from the truth, says the Denver anti-ageism group, which is changing the narrative. The campaign is particularly frustrated with the racks of greeting cards that perpetuate the idea that the older you get, the worse you feel: deafness, forgetfulness, crabs. Ageism isn’t funny, however, the campaign says. It’s harmful.

“I was looking for one for a friend and there was a picture of a woman in a tracksuit bending over and saying you know you can get too old if you can get a mammogram and a pedicure at the same time,” he said Campaign manager Janine Vanderburg says.

“All the scenes are grumpy and everything hurts. This is not real life. If you look around, a lot of us do cool things. The narrative is very different from the reality. “

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Last year, the campaign announced a competition for Colorado artists to create greeting cards that celebrate aging, rather than the all-too-familiar narrative that revolves around decline, depression, loneliness, and addiction. The result is 23 new $ 6 cards that can be purchased online at changethenarrativeco.org/ Anti-Ageist Birthday Cards.

And with the resurgence of greeting cards, Vanderburg says, perhaps due to people unable to see their friends and family during the pandemic, the field was ripe for entry. According to the website greetingcard.orgAmericans buy approximately 6.5 billion greeting cards each year, with annual retail sales ranging from $ 7 billion to $ 8 billion. Nine out of ten households buy greeting cards every year.

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The mandala design by Colorado Springs artist Heather McKinnon adorns one of the cards. Inside her text reads: “Give yourself permission to expand like the mandala. With every year and every additional shift, your gift to the world grows. Best wishes for your greatest year yet. Happy Birthday.”

The campaign message resonated with McKinnon, a former website creator who left the workforce in her thirties to raise children and cure breast cancer. When she tried to find a job in her forties, her skills were out of date and she decided to log out. At 50, she tried again. No luck.

It was at this point that she decided to give in to her creative urge to paint mandalas. Mandala means circle in Sanskrit and is a geometric configuration of symbols. She was delighted when she found a mandala-painted stone from the 719 Rocks! Art project that encouraged people to paint stones and hide them around the 719 area code for others to find.

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Her dot mandala work is now hanging in the Art 111 gallery and she will have a new show at Springs Restaurant 503W in February.

“I can do this until I’m 100. Nobody looks at people and says they are too old to make art. I wrote a little essay about how much this really set me free at this time of my life, but it’s unfortunate that doors are closed, ”said McKinnon of the essay she submitted to the competition.

“I still feel like 20 in my head. I’m still sharp enough to get any work done. “

Contact the author: 636-0270

Contact the author: 636-0270