Got the February blahs? Try these.

by Shannon Skinner on February 24, 2015

Canadians know how challenging the month of February is. March is not much better. After months of low light, shoveling snow and enduring frigid temperatures (unless you live in Vancouver, in that case, stick it!), we start to get cabin fever from hibernating.

Frosty Morning in Forest

Something I have noticed in my own life is that after hanging up my downhill skiis more than a decade ago, I stopped enjoying winter. I tend to stay in more and by the end of February I’m going squirrelly. For exercise, I do walk my dog several times a day and jog on the days when my lungs and face won’t hurt, but it is not enough. Going outside is a big effort. By now, I need an attitude adjustment. My guess is that others do, too.

Here are some ways to get over the February blahs and cabin fever, as we go into the last stretch of winter.

  1. When it’s cold outside, be warm and sunny from the inside: Go into your heart more. Do the things that warm your heart and make your light shine and radiate. Maybe it is helping out at a soup kitchen, or cooking a meal for your elderly neighbours, or a random act of kindness.
  1. Create an inspiring space: Our environment directly impacts our creativity and productivity. Low light tends to create lower moods. So brighten up your interior, both literally and figuratively. Create an inspiring space where you do your creative work. Colour plays a huge role. Paint your walls vibrant colours such as red, yellow or orange – or calming ones like baby blue. Enhance your space in a way that is inspiring to you — and maybe it will inspire others.
  1. Buy new art: If you already collect art, take stock of what you have. Consider trading or buy new art. Start a new collection of artifacts or other items that have meaning to you and place them in your creative space. Perhaps it is from your travels. Or make your own art to hang on the wall.
  1. Listen to music to lift your spirits: Listen to the kinds of music that pick up your energy, spirit and mood. Music impacts our energy level. I personally love opera and, this weekend I, fought the snow to see the Canadian Opera Company’s production Don Giovanni, at the Four Seasons Centre. The way the music made me feel was worth fighting the snow to get there.
  1. Get outside to play: If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em! I write this at the risk of being pelted with snowballs…Even if you are not athletic, get outside to play as much as possible. Go for walks, even if they are short. Play winter sports. Go tobogganing. Remember the fun you had as a kid and try to re-create that feeling.
  1. Take a class: As a forever student, I am always taking a course of some sort. Taking courses forces us to get out of our spaces, meet new people, we learn something new – and it keeps us engaged. Consider taking a photography, cooking or language course.
  1. Get some sunshine: We all crave fleeing from the Canadian cold into warmer, sunnier climates. So find a travel deal and go somewhere new, whether it is basking on a beach or a wellness retreat, or taking a course, such as Spanish, in a place that inspires you.

Photo credit: Andreas Krappweis

Shannon Skinner is an award-winning inspirational speaker, writer, and host and producer of the television and online series

This article was originally published at



Modern take on Mozart’s Don Giovanni

by Shannon Skinner on February 22, 2015

Last night, I had the pleasure of seeing Mozart’s Don Giovanni, the Canadian Opera Company’s current production and one of the most beloved operas ever, at the Four Season’s Centre in Toronto. The last time I saw Don Giovanni, opera’s famous “bad boy,” was more than a decade ago in Prague, where Mozart first performed it, which had sent me over the moon. This current production is a modern take on the classic we have come to know.

DonGiovanni-MC-1848(Photo: Michael Cooper)

The reviews are mixed. But of course they are, because you can’t please all the people all the time. The story is set in more modern times and some reviewers like that twist, others who prefer tradition do not, even though the story and score are apparently true to the original. I am by no stretch of the imagination an opera expert. I just know that opera soothes my soul, and I enjoy hearing the magnificent voices of the best singers, technically, in the world. And I think this current production, directed by Dmitri Tcherniakov, is brilliant because I could relate more to the story and to the characters, than a story set during Mozart’s era.

At 3 hours, with a 1/2 hour intermission, it is a long opera. In today’s distracted world, it is difficult to stay fully engaged for that long of a period, which has less to do with the quality of a production and more to do with the reality we face today. I have a difficult time watching 2 hour feature movies. But, for the most part, it managed to keep my attention. The performances of the unbelievably talented baritone, Russell Braun as Don Giovanni, and the magical voice of soprano Jane Archibald (Donna Anna), are magnificent. As well as all the other tremendous artists: Jennifer Holloway (Giovanni’s wife), Andrea Silvestrelli (Commendatore), Michael Schade (Don Ottario), Sasha Djihanian (Zerlina) and Kyle Ketelsen (Leporello).

And, of course, the orchestra, which opera singers need to have enough vocal power to “sing over,” played marvellously. That famous Mozart overture is igniting.

If you enjoy opera, and can hone your attention for 3 hours, it is well worth the time and effort.

Check out my insightful interview with soprano Simone Osborne, who recently performed in Canadian Opera Company’s La Bohème, about the life of an opera singer and what it takes to succeed.

Shannon Skinner is an award-winning inspirational speaker, writer, and host and producer of the television and online series



Falling in love with India

February 13, 2015

Enjoyed a great night last night of celebrating the food and culture of India, at an event hosted by India Tourism, Vasco Travel, a Toronto-based travel company in the Indian inbound tourism market, Air Canada, and Canadian Travel Services, at the Novotel hotel in Toronto. There are many reasons to fall in love with India. I love Indian […]

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What’s Cookin’ at United Nations Geneva

February 11, 2015

Something is cooking at the United Nations Geneva. The United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland has recently published a unique cookbook, Recipes for Peace, Rights and Well-being, which shares the secrets of many “recipes” for its peace and humanitarian initiatives that have changed the world, combined with superb recipes from some of Geneva’s most celebrated chefs. The […]

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Do you have burnout? Listen to your heart.

February 6, 2015

So you had passion for your work. Now, you feel stressed, overwhelmed and a lack of joy you once felt for your job, career or business. The bounce in your step has turned into a drag. Your creative juices are no longer flowing and you have stopped creating all together, and all you think about […]

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JUNO awards 2015 news conference, in pics

January 28, 2015

The JUNO Awards, Canada’s Music Awards, yesterday announced its list of nominees for 2015. I was invited to the media conference at the Danforth Music Hall. Here’s some snapshots:   A number of female artists , in particular, are up for awards, including Lights, Nikky Yankofsy, Marianne Trudel, Sarah McLachlan, Molly Johnson, Diana Panton, Elizabeth […]

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INTERVIEW: Heather Sinclair, Web Stores Canada

January 23, 2015

I have a growing appreciation for the online shopping industry. Time is something people don’t have, so any business that can cater to providing convenience has a leg-up in this crazy busy world. There are a growing number of entrepreneurial visionaries who recognize this. Enter, Heather Sinclair. Heather Sinclair is the owner of Web Stores Canada, […]

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Freedom of expression is never free

January 13, 2015

The tragic events in Paris, France this past week have sparked an important discussion around the world about the freedom of expression and speech. Freedom of expression is one of the pillars, so to speak, of democracy. Given this topic, I felt the need to add my two cents worth. (The pen is mightier than the sword) As a […]

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New Year’s Eve alternatives for party poopers (like me)

December 31, 2014

New Year’s Eve is one of the most popular nights during the year to go out with loved ones to party, have a nice dinner, or do something else that is fun, like skating if you’re Canadian. But unlike many people, I don’t like New Year’s Eve. I never have. I’m a New Year’s Eve […]

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10 Gems of Geneva

December 22, 2014

SHANNON’S TRAVEL BAG: travel tips for women Shannon Skinner visits Geneva, Switzerland, a small city with a big heart.        Geneva is small city with a big heart. With a population of nearly 200,000, it is the world’s capital of peace. While many visitors come to Switzerland’s second largest city for business, there […]

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