She is modest – and sincere in an intense way. At age 80, Doreen Russell has just completed her first book. It is a collection of her poetry and her art, with a sprinkling of family photographs.

The book, like Russell herself, is far from self-indulgent. It is filled with thought-provoking poetry, derived from a lifetime of observation and personal reflection.

A conversation with Russell about why she has written her book was pretty short. You see, she doesn’t like to talk about herself; she is one of those people who is interested in everyone around her and she truly listens. Perhaps it is that heightened sense of listening to others and following what is happening in the world around her which has translated into empathy and wisdom.

She says we are put on this earth to be positive and says that when she is feeling challenged, she turns to her deep faith.

Her best piece of advice is to learn to live with yourself. “We live with others and we can get away from people when we need to, but we live with ourselves all the time. We have to be comfortable with ourselves as human beings,” Russell commented.

Russell says she began writing poetry after her mother died.

“I was very upset after losing her. I wasn’t there when she passed. Somehow, that is when I started drawing and writing poetry,” Russell said. She is clearly devoted to her family: her sons and their families, and she still misses her late husband, Jack, very much.

Russell has taken a few art lessons but doesn’t consider herself to be an artist or a poet. “I do it because I like to,” she said.

Pointing to the walls of her home, she points out that she is surrounded by other people’s art.

She has a fondness for animals and especially chimpanzees; she thinks she likes them because they are so close to being human. Russell is known to many locally for her poetic tributes at special occasions.

Her book is called, “Journey to the Heart of Souls” and she is holding a book launch soon. Following that, her book will be for sale at The Review offices at 76 Main Street East in Vankleek Hill.