The Frozen 31 Post Show

A business lady charges down the sidewalk, her wristwatch tick-tocking the seconds she’s late for her morning meeting. She brushes past someone on the street, but doesn’t notice. He stands there with his hands in his pockets – just passing the hours away – trying to keep his fingers warm. They are two sides of a coin and that coin isn’t a nickel or a quarter, but time. One doesn’t have enough and the other, too much.

While I had intended for a part of this challenge to show a tiny glimpse into the time that the homeless have no choice but to be outside during the northern Yellowknife winter, it didn’t quite become what I had hoped. Instead, I was more caught up with the typical office employee’s struggle to make the time to be outside. While I won’t pretend that I came even close to experiencing my time like the homeless might, I did begin to think about things I normally hadn’t before:

Where do you go when you have nowhere to go? What do you do when you have nothing to do? Where do you sit when there aren’t any benches free from the drifting snowbanks? What do you think about when all you’re doing is waiting for the minutes to pass? How do you feel when you watch the city moving around you?

I began to understand why the Frame Lake Trail was popular. It’s a public place they can be and it provides something to do: walk. I spent most of the challenge alone and so I, like many of them, walked. At first my feet hurt, but then I got used to it. The worst was sitting somewhere. People would pass by as I sat cold, alone, going nowhere, and doing nothing. I felt out-of-place, uncomfortable. I felt in the way. I felt I could be asked to leave at any point, no matter where I happened to be sitting.

Yet, it felt wonderful to be outside so much. Unsurprisingly, it was the most enjoyable when I was with others playing hockey, roaming around, exploring, and taking in outdoor events. While winter can certainly coop a person up easily, it makes a big difference to say “screw it” to the cold and the dark and breathe in that fresh air while getting your body moving. This March was also not the billowing rager I had expected and prepared for. Last year the -40s stuck through the whole month with scathing winds so I had expected the same of this year, but was pleasantly surprised with just how tame it was. The mild weather was another factor that also made it easier to get outside.

Overall, I’d say that by taking part in this challenge, I was given an opportunity to view the city around me with a different lens. There is so much going on in a person’s immediate surroundings that they don’t consider in any way other than as how it relates to them. I think we miss a lot this way. Too often, we don’t even try to see other perspectives or what the tiniest of details may mean to someone else because it doesn’t have an impact on us. I would also say that those who work full-time indoors have to make a commitment to themselves to go outside. Without the commitment, it’s easy to let excuses take over while you start to become one with the couch in front of the old boob tube.

And that wraps up The Frozen 31: Success. Stay tuned for the next challenge and, as always, feel free to send me any ideas you’d like to see me try!


(Also, I’m  offering up a big apology to any avid readers for the nearly month-long lapse between the challenge’s conclusion and this post. I’ve been on the road most of April and consistently untethered to technology. Which is sometimes a great thing.)

The Frozen 31 Reveal

There comes a time every year in the season of cold, snow and ice where that extra layer of clothing feels like it’s really weighing you down, your anxiety heightens with each block you walk without falling, and you just might lose it if your car refuses to start one more time. You’re ready for the end to say the least.

And though April really isn’t that far away, March can be a rough month in Yellowknife. Which, for those of you who don’t know, is in the Northwest Territories of Canada. The wind comes up and Mother Nature usually likes to slap you with one last reminder that she’ll be back in just a few short months – so don’t get too comfortable.

While we are generally an adventurous bunch up here – each of us adapting to the elements – some of us also find we’re more often cuddled up on the couch rather than outside. Office workers can be especially outdoors-deprived, spending their working hours hunched over a desk and their off hours kicking back at home, running errands or fulfilling commitments that keep them shielded from those precious rays that boost their vitamin D levels and that keep them from drinking in all that fresh air. Couple this with a diminished number of daylight hours in the deep of winter and many people’s moods start to plummet.

I’m an office dweller myself and I’m also one of those people that has spent more time indoors this winter than I’d care to admit. So, for the month of March, I will be spending the equivalent of 2 hours outside per day for 31 days. Take a gander at the Current Challenge page for all the rules and info.

I know, I know. For all of you who work outside (or far south) all day this seems like peanuts; however, the combo of a desk job, commitments, and what can be the blistering cold of Canada’s north make it a challenge to not just take on the cold, but to make the time to get out there.

Now, this isn’t all about just getting outside and reaping the benefits of fresh air, exploring and owning the cold. Nope, it goes a bit farther than that. You see, I can choose to stay indoors, protected from the elements. Others can’t. Due to the hours that homeless shelters have in Yellowknife, there is a gap where homeless men don’t have a warm place to be. In the evening, this gap is two hours; in the morning, it’s one hour. While the experience will be undeniably different as this is a reality of life for others and only a challenge for me, it’s an opportunity to put in the time to better understand what those two hours mean for those who have to endure them.

I hope this challenge will show the good that spending time outside does for a person, but even more so, I hope it will help put just one basic aspect of homelessness into perspective.

The Frozen 31 starts March 1st. Updates are posted the next day.