Santiago de Compostela

view of Santiago de Compostela's Chapel from hotel window overlooking other buildings with red terra cotta roofs against a blue cloudless sky

Well, all good things must come to an end, as they say. Unfortunately for my husband and his sister, their walk came to an early end.

A few days ago, they overdid it and wound up getting sunburnt and dehydrated.

The town town they were in didn’t have Powerade or Gatorade so they just drank water.

I was kicking myself for not forcing him to buy the electrolyte tablets that you put in water. I had seen them while we were at REI and asked him if he wanted to take them and he said, “No, we’ll just buy Gatorade.”

Well, see, that wasn’t a good plan!

Because them my sister-in-law started vomiting. I got really concerned because I knew this good go downhill very fast. I texted her husband who called my husband and next thing I know, my husband has called a cab and is taking her to the university hospital.

Thank goodness she recovered with some IV fluids and rest. But, they decided to end their walk.

They took buses/trains to Santiago de Compostela and are just playing tourist for a few days.

They were due to come home on September 29th but yesterday my husband texted that they changed their plane tickets and will be home this Saturday.

While I’m sorry the trip didn’t finish as they had hoped, I’m glad everyone is well. It’s very difficult when someone you love isn’t well and they are so far away.

I have done my fair share of praying for them throughout this trip–mostly that they would have insight and healing, etc. but once I knew they had gotten dehydrated, my prayers changed to focus on them getting well.

I can’t wait to give them both a hug and hear all their stories!

I will share more next Wednesday.

Buen Camino!

A Camino de Santiago Blessing

a curved path with grass on either side and tall pine trees further off to either side and mountains in the distance

Hi everyone,

I thought I’d share with you something going on in my life right now kind of a behind-the-scenes look into my personal life.

My husband decided to do a walk called the Camino de Santiago which goes from France to the coast of Spain. It’s 500 miles total but he’s doing half of that (the first part and the last part).

He’s been training for well over a year because he had also thought about walking the Appalachian Trail. However, when he was at an REI Seminar, he heard about the Camino and it peaked his interest.

Then, he got sick, like really sick. In the hospital, heart attack, stint, sick. It took him about 3-4 months to get his medication regulated before he felt like walking again. That was last August.

He shared his goal of walking the Camino with his sister and brother-in-law. It just so happened that their church was hosting a talk given by a Priest who had walked the Camino. So, they invited us to listen.

He was hilarious! Something about it inspired his sister to want to do the walk too. That’s a very fortunate thing because I did not feel the call to do the walk but I didn’t like the idea of him doing the walk alone. She had lived in Spain back when her husband was stationed there in the Air Force and they have traveled back there to visit friends, so she has kept her Spanish up.

She’s also a detailed planner, as is he. Together, they poured over websites and books and videos to figure out exactly what they wanted to do. They booked their plane tickets, train tickets, bus tickets, and a hotel. The first few days were done. After that, they will officially start there walk and yes, those days are planned too but of course, they vowed not to push themselves and to just take it as it comes. As it should be.

Anyway, they left on Sunday, September 2nd.

Of course, being a writer, I had a few words for them. This is a blessing that I wrote to send them on their way. I read it to them before they left.


May your backpacks be light and your sticks be sure.

May your legs be strong and your feet endure.


May you, each moment embrace

And with each step find more of God’s grace.


May you make friends of everyone you meet

And wake refreshed each day as the sun you do greet.


May your minds be filled with peace from above

And your hearts overflow with God’s great love.


May you walk and talk and find silence too

Until your blessings abound and your burdens are few.

Bien Camino!

Sometimes a walk does ya good!

Thoughtful Thursday–Meditation and Mindfulness

Gray mountains with green trees in front reflected in still waters


Meditation and Mindfulness


I’ve decided to expand my blog from one post/week which focuses on things for children (it could be books, authors, tidbits of advice from a School Psychologist, or my own thoughts on Character Ed) to two posts/week. The second post is going to be focused on positive things to improve our lives. I’m going to call it Thoughtful Thursday.

Since children don’t read my blog, adults do, I thought I’d add a little something just for you, my adult friends (not adult content, mind you. LOL)!

I am a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (although I haven’t practiced in over 20 years–well, maybe a little part time here and there, but basically not in a long time). Anyhoo, I went into that field to help people. I love Psychology and Theories and so I will be drawing from that knowledge plus my ow personal experiences for these posts to help people feel more positive about life, themselves, everything.

To kick off this new post, I want to talk a little bit about Meditation and Mindfulness.

Meditation entered my life probably about 6 years ago. I read my Pastor’s book called Knowing as We Are Known and it changed my life. It is a 29 day Contemplative Meditation book. Each day he shares thoughts and bible verses and then poses questions for the reader to meditate upon.

While I have been a Christian since I was 3 years old (yes I prayed the prayer at 3), I never really felt like I had met God until I did this 29 day meditation. For the first time in my life during prayer, I kept silent. Amazing things happen when you sit quietly for 20-30 minutes. God shows up!

I have been practicing meditation most days since then. Research has shown that sitting quietly for 20-30 minutes/day reduces your blood pressure! That’s pretty cool! Plus, we are so plugged in these days. It feels really good to unplug and relax.

As part of keeping my license, I have to earn 60 CEU’s every 2 years (continuing education units) and so I signed up for a Mindfulness Seminar to learn how to use it in a therapeutic way. It was taught by a man who used to be a Buddhist Monk. I have never come away from a seminar feeling more relaxed and content and happy as I did from this seminar! That’s because he actually had us doing the exercises!

Now, mindfulness is different from meditation. Mindfulness means being aware of the present moment. You might be aware of an activity you’re doing such as walking or driving or you might be aware that you are with people you love (or not) but whatever, you are living in the moment, fully aware.

These two practices have changed my life. I’m much happier, more relaxed, and much more content with my life.

If you haven’t tried either, I would highly encourage you to. Take just a few minutes (you don’t have to start with 20 minutes, it can be just 5 or even 2) and take 3 deep breaths focusing on the feeling of that air coming into your body. Where do you feel it most? In your chest, your throat, or your nose? Try to calm your mind and not think about anything at all. Close your eyes. This helps with distractions.

Now, don’t you feel better? I hope so! If you keep up this practice, you will reap benefits even more than I can describe or know.

Please leave any comments or reactions to this post below. I’d love to hear from you.


–Award-wining children’s author, Wanda Luthman, writes books that weave positive social/emotional messages in magical adventure stories. Find them on Amazon and share them with your child today!

Peace Talks: 101

lioness with open mouth showing teeth
Children can sometimes make you want to scream!

Do your children like to argue with one another? Are you at your wits ends to stop the fighting and want to scream yourself? Today, we have our favorite child psychologist to help our children learn the art of peace talks.


Dr. Valerie Allen

Licensed School Psychologist ~ Case Manager


Peace Talks :   101

Part of being a child is “testing the waters”, with siblings, peers, parents, and authority figures. Children can quickly hook us into a debate or refereeing to settle their disputes. There are strategies which encourage youngsters to stop and think before they take action. We can use these skills to help children think for themselves and solve their own problems.

  1. State the facts. Avoid the who, what, why response. Questions such as “Who started this? What are you into now?” and “Why did you do a thing like this?” focus on blame and gathering evidence. It also puts you in as “judge and jury” to decide the issue. Stating the facts helps children distinguish between fact and opinion.
  2. Seek solutions. Simply state the problem and invite children to offer ideas to solve it. Don’t be critical of their suggestions, no matter how wild or inappropriate. Talk them through it with responses such as “If we did that, what do you think would happen next?” or “How do you think so-and-so would feel it we did it that way?” or “How do you think that would make things better?” Considering various solutions helps children see things from another perspective and fosters responsibility for their decisions and behavior.
  3. Words as tools. Teach children to use words to express their thoughts, emotions, and needs. Eventually, they will learn to use language to express their point of view, negotiate a compromise, and persuade others. Help them label their emotions beyond “happy” and “sad”. Expanding their emotional vocabulary will enable children to identify and discuss their feelings more accurately.
  4. Stand their ground. Children must learn when to stand their ground. They need to know in some situations it is alright to tell someone to go away or to stop bothering them. It is okay to tell a friend they do not want to play or share their things. They need to be able to say they need time to be alone or their feelings have been hurt. Knowing what they need, how they feel, and verbalizing it helps children become self-confident and self-sufficient.
  5. Zero tolerance. Children must develop a firm belief that it is never alright to hurt others, physically or emotionally. Along with this is the fact it’s never okay for someone to hurt them, call them names, or take or destroy their possessions. Zero tolerance helps children learn that aggressive behavior should not be denied, minimized, or justified.
  6. Calling in the troops. There are circumstances when the wisest thing a child can do is walk away, ( perhaps run!) Youngsters need to learn when the situation is beyond them and the best choice is to get someone else involved. Asking for help teaches children there is a difference between tattle-tales and needing adult intervention.

# # #

Dr. Valerie Allen is a child psychologist in private practice. She has published two childrens’ books, “Summer School for Smarties” and “Bad Hat, Good Hair, New Friends.”for grades 3 -5. Oh yes, she has also has raised six children!