Here are 7 ways to keep creating, daily.

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“Art belongs to everyone,” Pat Schneider said.

She passed away this year, and often I think of her, an award-winning poet and author who founded Amherst Writers’ and Artists’ Method in Massachusetts and spent her career in what she described as a revolution. She worked to make the creative world accessible to all, especially the poor. I think of her definition of the “original voice” when I meet a refugee with a poignant unheard perspective at the camp where I volunteer in Switzerland. I think of her when I feel voiceless on many days, too.

Though I have years of…


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Illustration: Amy Aves Challenger (author)

I don’t think kindness is something that you just learn one day. It has to be planted. Kindness emerges and blossoms like a seed, a heart, and then it gets stronger every year. It comes from the grandmother who let you watch TV late with her while eating Doritos. Or it arrives in the teacher who showed you how to make a own fairytale right there in your mind when your parents weren’t getting along. …


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Illustration, Amy Aves Challenger

Feeling lost is normal. Here are a few ways we can find ourselves again in 2021.

2020 made most of us feel lost, but not like Dorothy. We didn’t find Oz— anywhere. Behind our fear of COVID, behind masks and news stories that told us how lost the world was becoming— we didn’t feel like ourselves. We were buried in wildfires, race wars and lockdowns. We were separated from loved ones and confused by Tweets from a president claiming most of our loss was either non-existent, no big deal, or a complete lie.

And so we still felt lost.

We were lost amid pandemic debates, among charlatans, chameleons, and in how little we felt we could…


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Illustration Amy Aves Challenger

Christmas, how will I ever come to grips with your expectations, with my guilt, my sense of wonder, inadequacy and longing all nestled together like misfit emotions under a tree, during a pandemic? How will I manage the memories, dangling about an evergreen we chopped down and decorated partly with love and sometimes perfection, mostly with hope for something better than hundreds of thousands of deaths?

Christmas, you brought us a refugee man and a pregnant woman, shut out of the inns where no rooms existed. You told me to believe in stars, angels, and kind people. But I know…


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“I feel lonely” I hear too many friends and relatives say in anticipation of this holiday season.

Me too.

I bet the Pilgrims would relate on that symbolic first Thanksgiving. They mourned the deceased who had fallen ill from pneumonia and scurvy. They also missed their long lost relatives back in the Old World. Meanwhile the native Americans were likely reminiscing over the days before the white men appeared, bringing a brutal epidemic that eventually killed an estimated 90% of America’s original inhabitants.

This holiday the world is sick.

The problem is, we aren’t just sick with COVID. Globally over


I hope it’s not too late to change.

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“Mom, the problem isn’t Trump anymore. It’s what’s happened to all of us, on both sides,” my 13-year-old son said today.

Earlier, I’d sifted through social media. All I could see in other people’s posts (and in my own thoughts) was a chasm growing exponentially between “them” and us. It reminded me of four years ago. Today many expressed an inability to find any remaining connection to Trump supporters. …


Women and girls are counting on your vote— worldwide.

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Ivanka Trump knows American suburban women feel vulnerable, even shy these days. And so she tries to influence us.

“He will push policies that will protect the most vulnerable,” she told a crowd of predominantly women in Wisconsin last week, referring to her father, Donald Trump.

She hoped that her mostly white suburban female listeners (who haven’t been loving Trump lately) would soften up — like the ice cream she raved about.

Ivanka doesn’t look like she eats a lot of ice cream. But she believes that all women she addresses in America will overlook that. She thinks we’ll think…


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Vince Fleming, Upsplash

To all the Americans and to all you people who have lived in America, at any time in your life.

Please, say something.

To all you people who’ve traveled to or live in America, who have enjoyed the comforts of its “freedom”, its beaches, malls, neon lighted hotels, its beef, potatoes, pizza, hot dogs, and fries. To all who have traveled anywhere, actually, where people of color and black people exist. To all who normally post photos of your beautiful lives, as I do…

To all, who over the years shared on social media about travel, birthdays, school graduations, etc…


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Drop off scene at our private international school, Zürich, Switzerland

The red and white tape that resembled the scene of a murder guided me to a place to leave my fifth grade daughter, far from the school grounds, during a global pandemic. I was at her private international school where we live as U.S. expats in Switzerland. I wasn’t allowed to park, but was guided by a masked man waving me to a spot in the parking area.

Am I in a dystopian novel? I wondered, recalling that I’d been told to remain in my car. No other cars were around. What has happened to school? I looked at the…


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“We are…we are vulnerable”

“That’s the word, isn’t it?” said my Dad, a passionate writer who suffers with Alzheimer’s. It was his 78th birthday.

“Yes, we are,” I said. We were discussing the coronavirus and those most at risk during its spread.

“I have Alzheimer’s, you know.” He paused, looking at the ceiling for a moment. “Did you know that?” He asked.

“Yes.”

His face looked lighter, softer over the Google Hangouts chat screen than I ever remembered, his eyes a bit deeper, more thoughtful, at least to me. And though he sat beside his fox terrier and antique chest…

Amy Aves Challenger

https://www.amyaveschallenger.com/ American writer living in Switzerland. Contributor @Independent @WaPost, @Huffpost, @International Living , @Euronews & more

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