Many of us often put our creativity on hold so we can meet our daily needs — there’s nothing wrong with this. Today, this is a survival strategy. However, some people have time and perceive that they have nothing to do.


Home alone and bored

Senior citizens fit in this category. Some, not all, sit at home alone wondering when they can safely go out into the world and connect with others as they once did. Others may sit at home, but look out through eyes of hope seeking inspiration and finding joy in what is right before their eyes. No judgment, just an observation. It’s hard to stay positive, but it can be done.



Shift your focus to something positive that gives you joy

One such senior, Irene Jahns, has remained hopeful and employed her artistic creativity during this time of stress. She states:

“While biding my time during the COVID-19 lockdown, I realized how much the silly antics around my bird feeder were keeping me in a positive and happy frame of mind. I had been spending a great deal of time on my apartment patio to enjoy the fresh air while I either just sat with my coffee, waved to other residents or painted.”




A book is developed

Irene Jahns new book


During the COVID-19 lockdown, Irene was inspired to paint the birds who came to visit her patio bird feeder. She wanted to share her joy with young readers — especially her many grandchildren and great grandchildren.

I watched as this book developed. Irene painted beautiful water color representations of Carolina wrens, bluebirds, purple finches, and nuthatches. Each bird was painted with its name beneath and the narrative includes descriptions of birds.



Identifying and drawing birds

The book includes a challenge for the young reader to “find and identify the birds in the tree”. The other is a challenge to try their hand at “drawing a bird”.



More about Irene Jahns

Irene is a retired art and art history instructor, as well as a member of the Mooresville Arts organization where many of her painting have been exhibited. She creates art using watercolor, acrylics, oil and mixed media. Her latest painting, a vibrant abstract is currently on display.

Additional pieces appear in local businesses and her children’s homes. I admit that I have one of her watercolor paintings of ostriches proudly displayed in my home. She has been involved in mentoring local students in pursuit of art for their Capstone Project, volunteering at the Mooresville Library in a painting activity and as an illustrator for several children’s books.




My friend and mentor

Irene is my colleague, friend and mentor. I followed the development of her book and was inspired to write again. I had broken my right wrist and am still in recovery, but can now type. When she shared the final project of the book, I was inspired to share it with others showing how in a time of stress, we can rise above ourselves and let our creativity emerge. It can be contagious. Do you have a story of inspiration to share?


Irene Jahns book can be purchased at:

Bird photos courtesy


Cheryl A. Barrett, RN, MSN, NC-BC, is a retired nurse with 30-plus years in a variety of settings: clinical bedside in ICU, staff educator, academic instructor both didactic and clinical, supervisor, home care education, editorial director of a nursing magazine and is a board certified integrative coach.

In 2018 she published Good Grief: Strategies for Building Resilience and Supporting Transformation, inspired by the death of her husband. She won the American Journal of Nursing Book of the Year, 2018 in the category of Palliative Care and Hospice for her book. She is currently creating a companion workbook for those experiencing grief and loss.


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