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, www.writeradvice.com. 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, www.writeradvice.com 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 www.writeradvice.com. 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.