Saturday, April 17, 2010

Review & Giveaway: "You Want Me To Do What? Journaling for Caregivers" by B. Lynn Goodwin

Author B. Lynn Goodwin is a fellow book reviewer at When she became the primary caregiver of her elderly mother, she turned to writing as a form of therapy. In her book, You Want Me To Do What? Journaling for Caregivers, she seeks to bring others the same form of release.

Goodwin cites the research of James W. Pennebaker, professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin. He studied the effects of journaling and found that putting thoughts and feelings on paper is powerful. 

Journaling empowers the writer, who feels heard and acknowledged. It opens up perspective and insight. It reduces feelings of powerlessness. Journaling heals wounds and enhances mental stability.

Goodwin cared for her mother from 1994 through 2001. She knows firsthand what it is like when the parent-child relationship is reversed. Basic tasks can no longer be accomplished. Privacy is diminished. Confusion and embarrassment ensue. While acts of caregiving are rooted in love, frustration can lead to guilt. Goodwin understands the danger of succumbing to raw emotions. Instead of bottling them up, she suggests giving their expression free rein through writing.

The book provides several sentence starters broken down into four sections entitled "Thoughts about Me," "Thoughts about Caregiving," "Thoughts about the One I Care For," and "Thoughts about Reclaiming Myself." Prompts include "I wish I didn't resent...," "When I want to escape...," "I feel burned out when...," "I love you, but..." and "I forget what it feels like to..." These beginnings are followed by blank lines so that the reader can write a response in the book itself, although Goodwin encourages writing in a separate journal in order to fully explore each topic. 

There are no rules for using the book. Goodwin suggests skipping items that do not particularly move the reader and focusing on those that open a cathartic doorway. She encourages caregivers who have hang-ups about writing to put away their insecurities. No judgments are made on writing ability. The key is to start writing regardless of one's level of expertise. Goodwin even suggests drawing for those who feel intimidated or creatively blocked by the act of writing.

The reader is not left hanging upon reaching the book's final page. At Goodwin's website, there is information about writing with other caregivers, sample prompts, writings of those who have tried the process, booklists and more. She encourages caregivers to develop their journal entries into letters, essays, short stories, poems, memoirs and plays. Through her book, she provides an access point for caregivers to share their stories with each other and examine the healing power of the written word.

Overall, this book helps a caregiver sort out frustration and love from medications and bed pans.

You Want Me To Do What? Journaling for Caregivers by B. Lynn Goodwin is available for $10.99 at and at

A complimentary review copy was provided by B. Lynn Goodwin.

Enter to win a FREE copy of You Want Me To Do What? Journaling for Caregivers.
(1) Leave a comment below along with your email address & (2) become a (public) Google follower of this blog (widget found on our blog's right sidebar).

A winner will be chosen on April 30, 2010.

Congratulations to our winner: Kay!


  1. I think this book sounds like a good one for caregivers, a tough, tough task. I have been dealing with parental caregiving for almost 4 years now. This has not been in my own home, but with parents who live in care facilities. Still...a big, big job. I did do some journaling and it was very helpful to me. I let go of some anger and frustration and I would return to it in an instant if needed. This definitely sounds like a helpful tool. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Kay, I'm so glad it sounds good to you. You are right when you say it is a big, big job.

    Return whenever you are ready. Journalers often start by letting go of anger and later begin making wonderful discoveries.

    Take care,


  3. I don't need this book for myself, but it does sound like it would be very helpful for someone in that situation.

  4. This sounds like a wonderful book for someone in this situation. My mother cared for my father while he was ill and we never know when or if we will be in these circumstances. Journaling helps in so many ways for so many things.

  5. Thankfully this is not a book that I need at this point in my experience but I do agree that journaling can be a valuable writing process. I usually don't do it as much when I am writing other things, which is a shame.

  6. No need to enter me. But I could have used this book in 2007. I cared for my father-in-law for the last year of his life. He'd only known me for 3 years but I gave him meds, gave him insulin and checked his blood, helped him back in bed when he fell out during the night, called the ambulance (MANY times) and washed him when he had an accident. It must have been so humiliating for him. It was extremely taxing on me. I was 24 and he wasn't even my father. But I would do it again.

  7. I would love to be entered in your draw. Thanks. I just became a follower of you blog.


  8. Please count me in for this wonderful giveaway.


  9. new follower
    what a great book my sister needs this she has taken care of my niece since she was 9 , she is now 25. I don't see how she does it. thanks.