A Healthy Stepmother . . . goes on vacation.

Right now . . . drop everything and get out your calendar. Look at your schedule, consider your life, and plan a vacation. If that vacation is an afternoon trip to the next town, fine. If it’s a trip across the country, fine. If it’s a ski vacation with your girlfriends, fine. Just get out of the town where you live.

Every woman should get away at least once a year, preferably more often. You can keep the cost low, you can camp, you can take a walking vacation, you can go visit your parents in another town. Just get out of your city.

The vacation can be as expensive as you want by registering at a mountain spa or getting a condo by the sea. Just get out of your house.

Are you getting the message? You need time away. You need time out of the habits of feeding the dog, dressing the kids, running to the store for last-minute dinner items. You need to let your husband take care of the house and children and animals and plants and whatever else crawls in.

You need to get out of your city, town, village, or hamlet.

Only when you go away can you make a realistic assessment of who you are, of who you have the potential to be, of who you need to not be, or who you want to let shine through more completely. If you travel with your husband on business, go camping with him without children, or go alone . . . just get out of your town.

The simple act of brushing your teeth in front of a different sink will help you let go of some of the patterns that keep you behaving in the same way every single day. The obvious lack of responsibility for hearth and home frees you to consider your situation and appreciate, decide to change, or abhor some of the issues you’ve been ignoring.

But, the most important thing is that you give your nervous system time to come down from high up on the shelf where you feel stressed, pushed, nudged, and beleaguered. With practice and a certain regularity of these get-aways, you can teach your nervous system to let down in a smoother and more comfortable way so that it’s not such a big deal each time.

Rest, recuperate, rejuvenate, outside of your village.

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