Family Relationships

Join other women in the sandwich generation - share ideas and solutions as you learn to nourish family relationships without starving yourself.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Virtual Book Tour for Sandwiched Boomers

We welcome Lynn Goodwin and all Sandwiched Boomers. Lynn's book, YOU WANT ME TO DO WHAT? Journaling for Caregivers, gives encouragement, simple instructions, and over 200 sentence starts to get you journaling. According to Lynn, journaling relieves stress, helps you analyze and process your life, and sometimes helps you find joy. Even if you are only taking care of yourself, journaling is a great way to get through stuck places and open up new ideas.

NR: Why do you believe that journaling is such a great stress reliever?

LG: Writing gives perspective and restores sanity. It is a lifeline as well as a record. Journals listen without interrupting. They let you delve into issues and untangle messes. Studies have shown that journaling keeps you healthy by releases mental toxins and deepening awareness. Without journaling, I know I might have lost myself. When you write in your journal, it can be all about you.

NR: What do you do if you have nothing to say?

LG: Look around the room for an image or a sensory detail—the way the sun makes a path on the carpet, the way steam rises off a cup of coffee, carrying the aroma of morning with it. Listen to the high pitched whirring of an omnipresent machine, the tick of the kitchen’s black-and-white, kitty-cat clock—any image at all. Go wherever an image takes you.

NR: How did you turn your journaling experiences into a book?

LG: I think the idea was percolating the whole time I was simultaneously caring for my mother, working in an adult literacy program, tutoring online, and running Writer Advice, Trial and error taught me what worked.

One day I realized that there were plenty of books of prompts for writers, but nothing that addressed the needs of caregivers. I knew writing worked. I knew how to write. I wanted to invite others into the process. I’d been writing sentence starts for a free writing group I call the Berkeley Women, and I knew from their writing and my caregiving experiences that my sentence starts would work. I knew I had to convince caregivers to try writing, show them how, and group the topics into subjects. Looking back, it feels as if the book almost wrote itself.

Now I’m reaching out to all kinds of caregivers. If you know a professional, a support group leader or any kind of caregiver who can benefit from this book, please tell them to check out the Journaling for Caregivers link on Writer Advice, or search for B. Lynn Goodwin at Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Thanks for helping them connect with my book.

NR: What are your top three writing tips for caregivers?

LG: It’s hard to pick just three, but here’s a start.

1. Write about anything.
2. Start with what needs to spill out.
3. Write freely. Be specific. Lose control.

There are lots more tips in the book. Ready to get started? Pick up a pen or open a Word document. Write I feel… Then finish the sentence. Write another sentence. You are journaling. See what happens if you write for ten minutes. There is no wrong way to do this.

NR: Does this work for all caregivers?

LG: So far it’s worked for current, former, and long distance caregivers of spouses, parents, and special needs children.

It’s been equally effective for those in the midst of caregiving and those who are now taking care of themselves. Those left alone after a loss seem to find special comfort in journaling and sharing what they write. They are empowered when others relate to their specific experiences. There’s something magic about putting pen to paper, regardless of who you are.

One workshop participant said, “ Writing from the heart seems to be all that is needed.” I agree. Another said, “I can’t tell you how many things I’ve sorted out by being able to write them down.”

This is a great tool for volunteers, nurses, teachers, and those in the helping professions. We are all caregivers in one way or another.

Thanks, Lynn, for your insight and practical information. We know that journaling is a technique that can be of great value to all of us. Now click on Comments below and let us hear from you!

You can learn more about Lynn's e-mail workshops at Click on Journaling for Caregivers. Then click on Workshops/Events. To sign up, send her an e-mail. There’s a contact button on the site.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

There have been times I've tried to keep a journal but I just wasn't disciplined enough. I'm having a hard time with my mom and think it would be good for me. Any ideas?

7:17 AM  
Anonymous B. Lynn Goodwin said...

I'm so glad you've tried journaling and know it works. Discipline is not required. Write when you can. Write when you have something to say. Not everyone writes daily, so cut yourself some slack.

Start with "Today I want..." or "Today I feel..." and finish the sentence. Then write the next sentence.

Visit Writer Advice,, and click on Journaling for Caregivers to find more ideas. You'll find over 200 sentence starts in YOU WANT ME TO DO WHAT? Journaling for Caregivers, which can be purchased at Writer Advice or through Amazon.

Give it a try and let me know how it works, okay?


8:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been journaling for years and my relationship with myself is stronger because of it. Like a good friend who listens and doesn't judge, I've opened up in ways that have enriched all my close relationships. Cindy

9:06 AM  
Anonymous B. Lynn Goodwin said...

Congratulations, Cindy. I'm so glad that your journal is a "good friend who listens and doesn't judge." That's a great phrase.

It's fabulous that your journaling has helped you open up with people. WTG!

Keep journaling, okay? And if you ever want to share what you've written, feel free to send me 15 to 1500 words. I'd love to read it.

B. Lynn Goodwin

10:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a facilitator at Circle of Care Leeza's Place in Sherman Oaks, an intimate setting for caregivers and loved ones recently diagnosed with memory loss. I unlead one of the four caregiver support groups. I am thrilled to be introduced to your book "Journaling for Caregivers" as a tool for my group and the Leeza Gibbons Memory Foundation. I am currently forward your blog.

11:47 AM  
Anonymous B. Lynn Goodwin said...

I am delighted to hear from you. Based on the little I know about Leeza Gibbons' Memory Foundation,
YOU WANT ME TO DO WHAT? JOURNALING FOR CAREGIVERS would be a great tool for Circle of Care.

You can learn more about it at Writer Advice, Click on Journaling for Caregivers. The book is also available on and B&, and Amazon lets you read a few pages.

Please feel free to write me at If my e-mail address doesn't print here, you can find it on Writer Advice, Click on Journaling for Caregivers and scroll about halfway down the page. It's under "Eager to share what you wrote and get feedback?"

Let me know how I can help you. Thanks so much for writing.

B. Lynn Goodwin

12:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lynn, I hear what you say but I am too wiped out to even think about sitting down and writing in a journal. By the time I finish taking care of my mom and kids, it's all I can do to stay awake until I crawl into bed. Do you have any ideas about how I can find the time to journal? Karen

1:36 PM  
Anonymous B. Lynn Goodwin said...

I understand how exhausted you are. Can you take YOU WANT ME TO DO WHAT? JOURNALING FOR CAREGIVERS with you when you use the bathroom? While you are sitting there pick a sentence start and finish it. Write another sentence. Suddenly you are journaling. Take two extra minutes and write a little more. Surely your family can spare you for an extra two minutes.

Think about writing as you do other things. Maybe you can scrawl a couple of sentences while you are waiting for the coffee to perk, waiting for your mom to take her pills, or waiting for a web page to load.

If your family asks you what you are doing, tell them. Their respect for you will grow as they see you taking care of yourself.

Let me know if these ideas work.

B. Lynn Goodwin

1:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Journaling, while being a Caregiver is a good way to make sure you have set aside time for self care.

It is also a great way to set an example of expressing yourself to whomever you are caring for. They too, if able, may want to journal some of their thoughts or feelings. You could be the assist.

3:42 PM  
Anonymous B. Lynn Goodwin said...

You are exactly right. I think it would be wonderful for caregivers and loved ones to journal together. I'd love to see what pairs do with some of the topics in YOU WANT ME TO DO WHAT? Journaling for Caregivers.

A caregiver could certainly assist if the loved one can't write. People who can't journal on paper can also tape their thoughts. Their are so many technologies to help these days.

Have you ever written with the one you care for? How did it go?

B. Lynn Goodwin

5:02 PM  
Anonymous B. Lynn Goodwin said...

Thank you for your wonderful questions. I encourage you to visit Writer Advice, Explore, click on "Journaling for Caregivers," and consider submitting your work to Writer Advice's Fourth Annual Flash Prose Contest. Guidelines are on the home page.

Questions? Please e-mail

Thanks for sharing today, and special thanks to Rosemary and Phyllis for giving me this opportunity. Her Mentor Center is a wonderful service.

B. Lynn Goodwin

6:40 PM  

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