Be Brave Friday – Sometimes It’s Hard to Spread Love – Do It Anyway

Every week day on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn, I post something from my dogs (Gabby and Sparty) or my cats (Marsie, Cloud, and Koko).

I often wonder if there’s a point or if I’m just annoying everyone I know (and don’t) who follow me on social media.

I often think about how I give my thoughts and words to my dogs and cats because it’s the only way I can feel brave enough to say how I feel.

Every once in a while someone will get cranky with me about them, send me a private message and deride me because I still believe in love and goodness and hope.

“Who are you,” they’ll ask, “to believe such things. To share them with the world like you’re so smart or some sort of goody-goody.”

But every once in a while, someone will give me the most beautiful gift, an act of grace, a surprise, and I will cry because I am so stunned and lucky and grateful and relieved that there are so many good people out there.

Those reminders are so important especially when everything seems to be falling apart or actually is falling apart.

In just this past month, Cheryl Rainfield and Richard Small gave me those moments. And I felt so lucky.

This time it was Nora MacFarland who sent me this.

I cried when I saw it. I cried when I opened her cards. I cried when I sent her a thank you message.

I have cried a lot lately and if you’re the type of person who cries, I bet you have, too.

Last year we became full-time parents to a little person with oppositional defiance disorder and she always says after one of her big moments, “Why are people so nice to you?”

And I say, “I’m not sure, but I think it’s because I love people so much so I try to be kind to them.”

“Even people you don’t know?” she says, pretty skeptically honestly because this is hard for her to wrap her head around.

“Even people I don’t know and especially people I do know. Sometimes those people can actually be the hardest.”

I have been so lucky in this life because I do get to know people who go out of their way to give; people like Cheryl and Richard and Nora and so many more. People who offer pea soup because they know I love it. People who tell me I can rant when I need to. People who just read my books and support me on Patreon. People who I get to be a part of their literary and book journeys.

I know how lucky I am. I want you all to be lucky too. 

Nora was so brave to send her amazing art to me, to make this, to share her genius. I hope you can be brave too. I know you can.

Loving your way through tough times, through big cultural hard times and personal horrors can feel almost impossible. But you can. And love and anger aren’t dichotomies that exist in separate spaces. It’s possible to rage and love and cry and hope all at once.
But I hope that as you go through these days, you turn as often as you can to love.


Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness on the DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE podcast as we talk about random thoughts, writing advice and life tips. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. Please share it and subscribe if you can. Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow. There’s a new episode every Tuesday!

Thanks so much for being one of the 255,000 downloads if you’ve given us a listen!





And to hear our podcast latest episode for DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE, all about Making Sexy Mission Statements and Writing Platforms, click here. And all about Why Brilliant People Sometimes Aren’t The Successes We Expect is here.

Be Brave Friday! Three Steps to Being Brave

Anaïs Nin wrote, “Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.”

Being brave isn’t something that you always are. We aren’t all Captain America. We aren’t all always cowards either.

We fluctuate.

That’s what it is to be human. We are brave sometimes, maybe even all the times, but sometimes? Sometimes things feel too much, too big, too impossible and we get scared.

And in these very difficult times it can make a lot of sense to be scared.

How do you be less scared?

1.Know who you are

When you know your values, when you know who it is and what you stand for? It helps when you have things bashing against you.

I’ve always been ridiculously self-righteous about certain things and I know it can be a terrible trait, but it really helps when it comes to being brave. That surety in what I believe and my values allows me stand by those values.

2. Realize Fear Doesn’t Always Go Away

And that’s okay. Fear doesn’t have to always be conquered. It can be dealt with instead.

Understanding what makes you scared, helps you deal with that fear.

I’m terrified of putting my paintings out there because I still hear the negative scripts of my mom from when I was a kid. “Nobody in our family has a lick of artistic talent.”

She’d throw away my drawings and keep my stories. Is it any wonder I’m a writer?

So, I know that my fear about painting is about being rejected. That knowledge helps me do this every Friday. It helped when I was part of an art walk and people perused and scrutinized my work. But damn, I’m still always scared.

One of my lovely writer friends asked, “How can you be so scared when people are so nice about your art all the time?”

Let me tell you. I am scared all the time-scared of rejection, meanness, trolls, bad reviews, confrontations, not achieving, not being good enough according to some random standard that isn’t even my own.

But being scared all the time? That means I get to be brave all the time.

I get to practice being courageous every day.

The same thing goes for my Muppet voice. I know I am still afraid to talk, to podcast, to present because I was told how my voice would keep me from achieving, that nobody would ever love me because I sound so silly and nobody would ever take me seriously and I’d never have a job.

That’s why we do our podcast, DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE.

I practice being brave.

I’m still afraid when I do the podcast. Every time. I’m still afraid when I lead a class of writers or speak to a room of 1,000 people. Every time.

But I do it anyway because I don’t want my fear to keep me from opportunities, to keep me from being the best person I can be.

I hope you can do that too. It’s hard sometimes, but it’s so worth it.

Know why the fear is there. Practice living with it.

3. Give Yourself Some Slack

When it comes to being brave, it’s not always going to be awesome. You will sometimes not want to run on a treadmill, present at a meeting, try out for a show. That’s normal.

Be as kind to yourself as you are to your kids, your dog, your best friend. You don’t need to be mean to yourself. Random trolls will do that for you.

The more you give yourself kindness, the easier it is to be brave. You’ve got to be your own cheerleader, not just your own critic.

That’s it. Know who you are and what you stand for, give yourself some of the empathy and kindness you deserve and know that being brave isn’t an all or nothing thing all the time.

Earlier today, our county sheriff told me on Facebook that I was tough. I almost cried (which doesn’t seem very tough) because nobody ever thinks of me that way. But he saw me and that? It meant everything and he was brave enough to tell me what he saw.

Do that for yourself. Do that for others. Being brave isn’t just about helping yourself, it’s about helping other people, too.

Here’s my random painting that I made this week on a plank of wood in five-minute increments during breaks in my work.





And to hear our podcast latest episode for DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE, all about Making Sexy Mission Statements and Writing Platforms, click here. And all about Why Brilliant People Sometimes Aren’t The Successes We Expect is here.

Dear Me In 2031

Dear Me In 2031,

It’s January 7. Things kind of suck right now.

I hope that you’re still alive. I hope that the country still exists and it moves towards something better, something kinder, something more equitable.

I hope you do, too.

Pay attention.

Every single time someone doesn’t think you’re brilliantly awesome? It’s not the end of the world. Every single time you don’t get a client or a podcast ad or an amazing book contract is not the end of the world.

You know what the end of the world is? The actual end of the world.

Let’s move on.

The person you are is a much bigger deal than what you think you know. You will never know enough. There is always more to learn if you’re cool with learning.

Be cool with learning.

If you want to change the world, if you want to help people, if you even want to do something as simple as keep writing books? It’s important to have the knowledge to do that, to grow your knowledge, to LOVE getting that knowledge.

Yeah, sometimes realizing you’re wrong will suck. That suck is worth it. Why?

The suck is better than not ever realizing that you’re wrong, better than perpetuating idiocy or stereotypes or bad advice.

But you also need to remember that you are not the suck. You are courageous because you are here existing, learning, being, forcing yourself to be brave and thinking, “What can I do more? What can I do to make things better? To make myself better?”

But again…

Being imperfect? It doesn’t mean you’re unworthy or unloveable. It only means you are human. Perfectly human.

And that’s okay.

You’re okay.

But you know what? You’re more than okay because you are trying. You are still here thriving and living and doing. And haters on whatever social media exists in 2031 will still randomly tell you you’re wrong or you’re vague or that you’re stupid because of some damn demographic about yourself, be it your race, gender, sex, religion, class, religion, political views, job, or just that you slur your damn s’s.

And that doesn’t matter.

What matters is that you care. What matters is that you put yourself out there, vulnerable and beautiful. What matters is that you are who you are and that you’re not trying to be anyone else. What matters is how beautiful your soul is, how it sparkles with light. What matters is that you share that light with others (or try to) in every interaction.

Damn it.


You are okay being you. You are important just being you.

You get to define yourself. You are not disposable, not a statistic, not an anecdote and not defined by being a consumer or by social media or other media.

You are.

That’s all you need to be.

But it helps if you try to learn. It always helps.





And to hear our podcast latest episode for DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE, all about Making Sexy Mission Statements and Writing Platforms, click here. And all about Why Brilliant People Sometimes Aren’t The Successes We Expect is here.

BE BRAVE FRIDAY the 2021 Version about Little Free Libraries and Dead Friends

On the first day of an awful year, it can be hard to feel hope, to be brave, and that’s okay.

You’re okay.

Whatever you’re feeling and doing. You’re okay.

My friend, Lisa Wolfson aka L.K. Madigan was a beautiful human and author and she died of cancer before 2020.

She was a tremendous, kind, funny, supportive light in this world.

Her book? It’s a beautiful book. Her soul? It is a beautiful soul.

Her incredibly kind and thoughtful husband sent me a box of one of her book for our Little Free LibraryLittle Free Libraries that our local Rotary International club (Bar Harbor/MDI Rotary Club) installed on MDI.

I’ve been quietly putting those books in there, one after the other after another, thinking of the MDI kids who find them and read them, spreading Lisa’s light and heart and love throughout this island.

But I couldn’t post about it because it just…it made me cry. It made me remember that Lisa isn’t here anymore, that so many of my friends and relatives are gone and they deserve to be here and it made me think of everyone else I know (and don’t know) who has gone through so much loss and worry and pain.

Lisa’s books though? They give me hope. Her husband gave me hope because it is proof that people’s light and influence? It lives on.

It is hard to be brave when there is so much loss, but it’s important to be brave so that we can keep spreading other people’s lights and our own.

I hope your year is full of light and heart and love.

Thank you for being here, for reading this, for being my friend and for spreading goodness. We’ve got this, okay? Let’s be brave together in 2021.

*Apologies for the image tilt. It was cold!

The drop off!

I’ll be back to talking about characters on Monday!

May you have a lovely, safe, and healthy 2021.





And to hear our podcast latest episode for DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE, all about Making Sexy Mission Statements and Writing Platforms, click here. And all about Why Brilliant People Sometimes Aren’t The Successes We Expect is here.

Be Brave Friday – The Suck at Running Edition

So, if you know anything about me in real life (or live in my town), you know that I have a love-hate thing going on with running.

Full disclosure: I suck at running. I am more of a slogger (slow jogger).

Other full disclosure: I don’t care that I suck and people yell to me, “Good job! You’ve got this! Don’t die! Do you need an ambulance?”

When I was a little kid (despite the fact that I was chronically breaking leg bones and spraining ankles and tearing up my knees), my dream was to run a marathon.

Last year my dream was to run a half marathon. And I did, but not in an actual event-event because I chickened out and then I got really sick in February and lost my entire upper respiratory system somehow.

And I have to build back up again.

Something like this happens every single time. I train. I get hurt. I start over.

Now my dream is to run a 5k in an actual race-type situation where you get a number and a t-shirt and have to follow course markers and stuff.

Obviously, I am old. Dreams get a bit down-sized sometimes.

And I train.

But then I break.

I start over. Right now I’m on week eight of the Couch to 10K program, waiting to break.

Seriously. I am always breaking. I run with two knee braces. I get plantar fasciitis. Once, my hip sort of popped out. People can spot me by those braces. They do. All the time.

So what does this have to do with being brave?

It’s the starting again part. It’s the knowing that I’m probably going to fail again part, that I’ll be too scared to sign up for a run (when we can have them) because of my social anxiety, that I’ll get hurt again and be hobbling around for months.

But I still do it because it’s a goal. It’s a want. It’s like writing. People might reject your book or send you hate mail or stalk you, but it doesn’t matter.

What matters is the want.

And being brave is going after the want.

How about you? Are you going after those wants? Even when you’re broken? Let me know, okay? That way I can cheer you on. We all need cheering on especially right now, right?




My little novella (It’s spare. It’s sad) is out and it’s just $1,99. It is a book of my heart and I am so worried about it, honestly.

There’s a bit more about it here.

Be Brave Friday.

I’ve been staring at this post for a good long time because I’m not feeling super brave right now, which is fine.

Bravery comes. It goes. It’s not a constant state. Nothing is a constant state, right?

I was going to talk about how this is the first year where being an author wasn’t my main source of income.

I know, right? Weird.

I actually have made more this year teaching other adults writing, editing novels, and being a writing coach and podcaster.

That’s a weird shift.

I love all those things, too.

I love seeing people find their voice, their stories’ truths, making themselves and craft stronger.

So that’s all good, but it means I’m not just or mainly a writer anymore.It’s so weird and kind of dumb (sorry) to think how in our country who we are is so linked to our main source of income. But I’m no less a writer this year than any other.

We are what we do, how we act, what we stand for, what we stand against. We are how we listen, how we evolve, how we challenge ourselves, how we connect and commit to others. We aren’t just our profession, the number of hours we work or our income.

And here’s my very much a work-in-progress painting, which represents the very much work-in-progress that is me and my country. It’s rough and dorky like me. 🙂





And to hear our podcast latest episode for DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE, all about Making Sexy Mission Statements and Writing Platforms, click here. And all about Why Brilliant People Sometimes Aren’t The Successes We Expect is here.

Be Brave Friday

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”
― Nelson Mandela

In times of change and strife, it is sometimes hard to have courage, to not just face that fear, but conquer it.

Mandela’s quote really resonates with me today as does this one.

The moment we begin to fear the opinions of others and hesitate to tell the truth that is in us, and from motives of policy are silent when we should speak, the divine floods of light and life no longer flow into our souls.”
― Elizabeth Cady Stanton

This is my little bit of bravery this week, sharing a painting I’m working on.


I do art stuff. You can find it and buy a print here. 


On one of my Patreon sites I read and print chapters of unpublished YA novels. THE LAST GODS and SAINT and now ALMOST DEAD. This is a monthly membership site (Hear the book chapters – $1/month, read them $3-month, plus goodies!). Sometimes I send people art! Art is fun.

On this, my second site, WRITE BETTER NOW, you can do a one-time purchase of a writing class or get two of my books in eBook form or just support our podcast or the dogs. It’s all part of the WRITING CLASS OF AWESOME.

It’s a super fun place to hang out, learn, read, and see my weirdness in its true form.

And I’m starting up a brand new, adult paranormal set at a Maine campground. You can read the first chapter here.


I have a quick, pre-recorded Teachable class designed to make you a killer scene writer in just one day. It’s fun. It’s fast. And you get to become a better writer for just $25, which is an amazing deal.



And once again our country (the U.S.) is in a bit of an odd space.

You all might be feeling like you’re in an odd space, too. I know I am.

This week I released a novella, a short story that’s not stylistically like any of my published work and that was terrifying.

Thanks to all of you for supporting it. It means everything to me and it ended up with an Amazon #1 banner in a random category because of you. That’s all you.

And I am learning and creating a quick course on TEACHABLE about scenes, which has been a ton of work and a lot of vulnerability on my part.

So, I’m posting three images of women floating, women reaching. They were all created on bookshelves that Shaun brought home from someone’s house. I like thinking of all the wisdom that rested on these shelves once.

I hope you all find some wisdom and bravery today. Much love to you.






And to hear our podcast latest episode for DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE, all about Making Sexy Mission Statements and Writing Platforms, click here. And all about Why Brilliant People Sometimes Aren’t The Successes We Expect is here.

Carrie Jones Books is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to


So, I am terrible at promoting myself because apparently I am an introvert. I know! I know! I don’t present that way at all, but I am a person who cringes when the phone rings.

But I am going to be brave and try because I love this story so much. Why? Because it’s about hope and faith even when things are impossible.


But I have a book coming out October 1. It’s just an ebook because it’s small. It’s incredibly different from all the other books and stories that I’ve published, but I hope you’ll take a chance on it anyways because I love it terribly much.

It will be .99 on pre-order and 2.99 once it’s live.

And did I say I love it very much?


  1. You can spend .99 cents and make Amazon think, “Wow! People are buying Carrie’s book.”
  2. That will basically give me .35 cents. I can buy a stamp with that! So, that means when I send everyone holiday cards, you’re helping! Oh! You’re helping me and the post office.
  3. You can write a review on Amazon after you read it. This actually really helps authors a lot. So much. Insert begging voice, “Please buy my book and review it.”



The soul-wrenching story starts here….

Becca’s young life is about to change when she meets a boy in the playground, a boy who seems too magical to be real. Barely, surviving at home, Becca’s new friend quickly teaches her what it means to have hope and faith.

A compelling novella that’s sure to resonate and leave a lasting impression.

Carrie Jones Books is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to


This story won a few awards a long time ago, but it’s too short for traditional publishing really and it’s so different than what my readers expect from me that it feels…? Scary. It feels scary.

It’s hard to write something radically different sometimes.

And it’s also the story that helps me through my own grief, which is a deeply personal thing. So, maybe the reason I’m so scared is because it just feels so incredibly personal? Who know.

But I hope you’ll take a chance on it, check it out, and like it. And if you don’t like it? I hope you’ll still like me after you read it anyways.


How are you doing this Friday? Are you being brave? Scared? Is there something you’d like me to cheer you on about? Just let me know!

Be Brave Friday and the Death of Aunt Maxine, A Woman of Light and Intellect and Bossiness.

I found out yesterday that my aunt Maxine died at the end of August. This is typical for my family where I tend to be the one who never knows anything important until weeks or months after everyone else. That’s okay. It is what it is.

Aunt Maxine had her own family before she joined ours and they were all of my siblings’ generation, not mine because I came so much later. I was the age of their children, basically. I can’t imagine the grief that they feel because Maxine was a force. She was a light. She inspired and made change in ways that seemed almost effortless.

This is the kind of woman she was.

Mom was a proud graduate of Cornell, Class of ’45, where she continued to be an active alumna and class president through her 75th reunion held on Zoom this past June. She was a positive force in the New Hampshire community, dedicating much of her life to serving needs of the people around her in the areas of child care, mental health, women’s empowerment, education, the arts, athletics and politics to name a few.

Mom created a warm and welcoming home, buzzing with activity, which was often the gathering place for family and friends of all ages. She was well known for her chocolate chip cookies and brownies that were stashed in the freezer for all to grab.

With boundless energy, a keen interest in people and the world around her and a belief in civic engagement, she lived the Judaic precept that having been given life, it is one’s individual responsibility to better the world around you. Warm, smiling, inclusive and astute, Mom was a consummate networker, who connected countless numbers of people around their common interests. She frequently enlisted help in causes she supported, and trust us, you couldn’t refuse Maxine. Never short of opinions or advice, she was a force to contend with.

Mom’s proudest achievements were the work she did as the founding director of the Greater Manchester Childcare Association, the first federally funded day care center in NH, and her work as chairwoman of the 1975 NH Commission on Laws Affecting Mental Health. Under her leadership the commission was instrumental in enacting legislation that extended mental health insurance coverage in group policies.

Maxine’s obituary

Or as Brad Cook wrote in a New Hampshire Business Review article yesterday

It is not hyperbole to say that New Hampshire lost two giants among our citizens in August.

Maxine K. Morse of Portsmouth, formally of Manchester and Laconia (and a magnificent property on the shore of Lake Winnipesaukee), passed away on Aug. 23 at age 96. Raised in New Hampshire, she attended local schools and then Cornell University, a lifelong love of hers. Maxine Morse was a force with whom to be reckoned as she inspired her children and grandchildren, friends and colleagues to do better than they thought they could do.

Brad Cook

I did not impact Maxine’s world at all. I’m not enough of a narcissist to think that I did, but she impacted mine. I’ve written before about how I was the last child, how my parents divorced and my stepdad died, and how my mom and I struggled financially—a lot—as I grew up.

But Maxine and her husband, my uncle Dick, gave me hope that I could be everything and anything that they were, but also that I had a responsibility to the world and to my community to use whatever I had to try and make the world a better place.

They tried to send me to private school and fund it. Mom refused.

They helped me with my college choices and were heartily disappointed when I didn’t chose the most prestigious one. Mom was okay with that.

They tried to convince my mom to let me go study at the Goethe Institute in Germany when I got a scholarship. Mom refused.

They did everything they could to try to make me blossom.

Be Brave Friday

I’ve written this before, but today is BE BRAVE FRIDAY, and sometimes it’s hard to be brave when people like Maxine leave the world, but sometimes it’s easier too because of the light they shone and the path they followed are such beautiful examples to the rest of us.

Photo from

When I was Little I was Shy and I Knew I wasn’t wealthy or Like Dick and Maxine and Their Friends

We visited their house a lot. And once I went to a window seat that looked out on Lake Winnipesaukee at Maxine and Dick’s house. There was a bookshelf at the end of the seat and in that bookshelf was an etiquette book full of how to eat at the table, what manners were, how to write thank-you cards, exchange greetings, and so on.

It was a beautiful summer day. All the other kids were swimming and playing tag. I was reading and memorizing and trying to learn how to be like the others.

Eventually, rushing in from outside to get cookies or something out of the freezer, my Aunt Maxine noticed that I was sitting there, reading.

A Force To Contend With

“Carrie. What are you doing? Go out and play, Carrie,” she said.

She liked to use people’s names a lot. She also was sort of bossy in a nice way.

I was afraid of bossy, but I also loved my aunt so I said as bravely as possible, “I’m reading.”

“Don’t you want to go swim with the other children? They’re all outside getting sun, having fun.”

They were. They were splashing around in the water, doing cannonballs off the dock, or perfect dives. They had perfect bathing suits from L.L. Bean and Lands’ End, and every single one of them seemed to know how to ski, play tennis, and were learning golf.

She took the book from me and read the title. After a second, she sat down on the bench next to me. “What are you reading this for, Carrie?”

And I said, “Because I want to be better.”

“Be better! That’s ridiculous. You’re wonderful as who you are.”

“I want … I want to fit in.” I looked her right in the eyes and she got it. I knew she got it. She understood all the things that I couldn’t figure out how to say.

She handed me back the book. “I will make a deal with you. You read this for another half hour and I’ll set the kitchen timer. When it goes off, you go play with the other children and get some exercise.”

Nodding, I thought this was okay. “But I might not finish the book.”

“You can finish it after dinner and games.” She pet me on the top of the head. “I’ll bring you the timer.”

I was five.


They realized that there was a social code and a way of being that wasn’t easily accessible for me no matter how hard my mom tried. I was a poor kid in a wealthy town. I was a latchkey kid who was awkward and driven and terrified of failure. Paying for acting lessons, to play on the soccer team, to play piano were huge stretches for us. Sometimes they happened. Sometimes they didn’t.

My aunt and uncle understood my situation and my want because my uncle was the same way. He was the oldest son of a single mom. He pushed himself hard to succeed, to learn the social code of success and wealth. He went to UNH because it was the only place he could afford and he was valedictorian there, desegregating the fraternity system while he was class president. He eventually went to Harvard Law and married Maxine, a woman who had so much intellectual stock and prowess that it was just ridiculous. Seriously? Cornell, Class of 1945? Brilliant didn’t begin to describe her. Dick ended up being the head of an international law association, head of a law firm, chairman of the board of trustees at UNH and so many other things. And so did Maxine.


My little five-year-old self was trying to do the same things as he did and to be wonderful the way Maxine saw me. Somehow. I took the first and only step I could think of taking — reading that book, trying to crack the social codes of behavior that made their friends and them so different from my mom and me.

Photo from Ithaca Voice

Losing Lights

I was in college when Uncle Dick was dying.

We had all gathered for one last Thanksgiving. There were tons of people there, the same kind of brilliant, world-changing people that were there when I was five and when I was ten and when I was fifteen. The same wonderful, world-changing people who will be at Maxine’s Zoom memorial on Tuesday.

On this day, my still-alive mother and my still-alive nana were barely able to sit still because they were so overwhelmed with Dick’s impending death. They’d have to leave the room every time someone mentioned his name.

During dinner, Maxine called them into his bedroom with her. They stayed for about two minutes and left sobbing.

“He’s too tired,” Maxine said at the threshold of the hallway that led to those bedrooms. “He needed them to go.”

But then, a minute later, she called for me. “Dick wants to see you, Carrie.”

I remember pointing at my chest. “Me?”


“He’s not too tired?”

“No,” she said. “Not for you.”


There was a bit of a murmur at the table because Uncle Dick wasn’t really calling for anyone to come see him. He was barely holding on.

She ushered me into a back bedroom that wasn’t their normal place to sleep. The wooden walls were dark because the shades were drawn. There was only one bedside light on. My uncle was thin and his breathing was so heavy. It seemed like there were a million blankets layered on top of him.

He met my eyes as I came to his bed and sat on the edge of it, ignoring the chair.

“Everyone sits in the chair,” he rasped out.

“I wanted to be close to you.” I grabbed his hand.

“Nobody wants to be close to death.”

“You aren’t death. You’re my uncle.”


The weight of his hand in mine seemed like nothing and everything all at once. I think he might have fallen asleep, but I sat there thinking about how beautiful he was, how elegant, how he challenged systems of injustice one at a time as best he could, how he taught himself Japanese, how to play the organ, how to be wealthy, how to fit in with an entire class of successful people that he wasn’t born into, and how he and Maxine both tried to lift other people up into that class with them.

He opened his eyes. “Carrie, I’m throwing down the gauntlet. Will you pick it up?”

There was only one answer.

“Yes,” I told him. “Yes.”

It was the last thing he said to me. He fell asleep again. We left for home. I left for college.

At Dick’s Funeral

Uncle Dick had a huge funeral with people in waiting rooms and lined up. There was not enough room to fit all the people who loved him and Maxine and wanted to say goodbye.

Maxine’s memorial, thanks to COVID, will be on Zoom.

having been given life, it is one’s individual responsibility to better the world around you.

At Dick’s funeral, I had to hold up my mother, my nana. And I had to stand at the podium and read a Psalm. I’m not sure if that was Dick’s choice or Maxine’s, but I was the one they chose to represent the family. The rest of my family couldn’t figure that out. I was the youngest. Not the most confident. I had a speech defect.

I’m pretty sure that I was Maxine’s choice because she knew the power of being seen, the power of words and of choice and as I read the Psalm that Dick chose when he planned his funeral out and those words echoed in the sanctuary, I got it. The power of voice, of words, of being seen. There is strength there. You don’t have to hide on a window seat, but you can go out into the ocean and the sun.

When I read those words, they were bigger than me. They were comfort. They were about the life of Dick, the life of Maxine, the life of all of us.

And since then, I have spent years trying to figure out how to make my words to my uncle not be a lie. How to meet the challenge of his life so well lived.

And it’s not just him. It’s also Maxine. I want to be worthy of her faith in me, in her assertion that I was wonderful the way I was.

And I know I’m not doing enough. It’s hard to motivate other people. Sometimes it’s hard to even motivate myself. But Maxine did it. She did it over and over again.

I have a friend who recently said to me, “You do so much volunteering. I don’t. I can’t. I’m a selfish person. I want to make money.”

And I didn’t know what to say.

I still don’t.


I have only succeeded as much as I have because people like Maxine were willing to let me read a book, to be examples of goodness, to give me the opportunity to interact with senators, opera singers, doctors who have saved thousands of lives.

Humiliation and exclusion are not what we should aspire to. Inclusion and praise are not things to be afraid of giving to other people. Enjoying other people’s successes and happiness doesn’t make you any less likely to succeed.

The gauntlet is about being unafraid and allowing other people into your life, your heart, your communities.

Aunt Maxine and Uncle Dick told me throughout my childhood that intelligence was a privilege that I was born with. It could be cultivated and expanded on, but what was the most important thing was finding a way (or many ways) of using that privilege (intelligence, class, race, gender, being physically fit, and so on) and using it to better other people’s lives, your own life, the world, not in a way that makes you a hero but in a way that makes you a friend.

having been given life, it is one’s individual responsibility to better the world around you.

Be Brave. Vote. Act. Speak out. Include. Applaud. Connect. Give a child a moment with a book. Give yourself one too. And sing some Sarah Vaughn in honor of my Aunt Maxine, okay?

Memorial contributions may be made in Maxine’s name to: Friends Forever International, Morgan Way, Durham, N.H. 03824,, Richard and Maxine Endowment Fund,; or Richard A. Morse Scholarship Fund,

Continue reading “Be Brave Friday and the Death of Aunt Maxine, A Woman of Light and Intellect and Bossiness.”