Shoulder Time and Time Off

Not Riding

Awareness of the outside world. NPR: What We Know (And Don’t Know) About ‘Missing White Women Syndrome’, Demby, 2017. “News outlets might be deciding that missing white women are worth more in terms of eyeballs and ad revenue.” Article closes with thought that it may play into the perception of women as victims.

Space for a breath.


I forget how much time & energy I have when not riding.

Last week, we had an weather-enforced break in the riding schedule. I got caught up on house things. Will wonders never cease. [Waiting For Nicholas To Pass By]

Riding soaks up more time than I realize. I’ve said this before, probably more than once. It surprises me each time. When you are in the middle of an activity, you don’t recognize how much effort is being expended.

The travel industry has concept of shoulder seasons. The days between the high season and the off season. Trying to make the boring bits sound inviting.

I extend this to the concept of shoulder time. The time between when you are doing the thing and when you are not doing the thing. The transitions.

Let’s say a store/restaurant/friend’s house is 45 minutes away by car. That’s driving time. It doesn’t count the time it takes you to get up off the couch, find your keys, start the car, and then, at the other end, park, shut off the car, gather your bumf, and head to the front door. The time from couch to cashier/menu/friend’s couch could be well over an hour.

That’s if you are ready to go. Add more time for prying yourself out of your daytime pajamas, taking a shower, deciding on &/or finding clean clothes, and so on. A 45-drive is suddenly a two-hour project.

That’s shoulder time.

Or at least, that is shoulder time for the drive. The drive itself could be considered shoulder time for the shopping trip/dinner out/visit with friend. But I’m losing my grip on this metaphor.

The point is, it takes a while to go from sitting on the couch to sitting on the horse. Even more so than driving. Cars don’t require special clothes and equipment. Cars don’t need to be caught and groomed and feed cookies. Maybe you need to commute to the barn. Once you get home, there is showering and unwinding and eating of people cookies to get your strength back.

There is also the expenditure of mental energy. Just because I’m back home and showered doesn’t mean I am rested and ready to take on the other parts of my life.

Riding for 45 minutes does not mean that I have 23 hours and 15 minutes of the rest of the day that I can expect to use productively. I forget this.

On the upside, we have been riding enough lately that I have less anxiety about taking time off. Downtime is less guilt-ridden if one has been busy.

On the down side, when I have free time, I have time for the existential questions. What am I doing with my life? What is the purpose of … anything? What … ? These questions always exist. When I’m fiddling with horses, I don’t think about them.

Stay safe. Stay sane.

4 thoughts on “Shoulder Time and Time Off

  1. Shoulder time can be part of the plan. In the morning, before I confront the day, I do a series of games and puzzles while my mind wakes up and considers the day or revisits my dreams or just vegs.
    At night, I read for an hour or two, switching from planning and doing to passively reading about other characters planning and doing. No news, conversations about the day or tomorrow. Just quiet reading.
    Seems to work because I am uneasy when I skip the broad shoulder.
    Never thought of it that way. Thanks.

  2. This is helpful. Thank you for introducing me to shoulder time in my own life via your example. I had not thought of it in these terms and it helps explain an occasional disconnect with my husband, whose visible “shoulder time” might be ten times longer than mine. He talks about going to the store, makes several trips outside and in, and forty-five minutes later he is not out the door. I think about going to the store, sort through the process in my head, but then abruptly I am gone. Both of us actually have that prep time, but it looks different. We will discuss.

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