Advice to my younger self

I have reached that point in my life where I can look back as much as I can see forward. Usually referred to as “middle age,” I prefer to call it the Age of Wisdom. Not that I have mastered wisdom by any stretch of the imagination, but I am certainly wiser than I once was, say, in my wild 20s and growing-pain 30s.


Selfie taken at the Queen’s Plate 2014

Throughout my life, more often than not I have gone against the grain. Reflecting back, going with the grain hasn’t worked for me. Job security, check. RRSPs, check. Home ownership, check. Car, check. Committed relationship, check, un-check, check, un-check. None of those things brought me happiness.

So what does it mean to go against the grain? Bucking trends. Avoiding herd mentality. Going it alone. Breaking rules…. essentially, creative expression and freedom. As the staying goes, a rolling stone gathers no moss.

As I approach my fiftieth decade in this meat suit on planet Earth, I am not feeling the way I had anticipated I would feel like at this age. I presumed I would feel settled, contented, comfortable. Instead, I am feeling restless — again — and having a bigger pull than ever to keep the rolling stone in motion. Perhaps once a wild soul always a wild soul. Maybe there is no such thing as taming a wild horse – maybe it’s just breaking its spirit.

On Saturday, I had a day of self-care, something that is more important than ever as I begin to see signs of aging, with a lovely woman who is on a mission to help many other women look and feel beautiful – ultimately their best. Vian Sharef is a single mother and entrepreneur who I admire because she has not had an easy life and in spite of it has created tremendous success, and who I have put my complete trust into caring for my skin and slowing down the aging process (listen to my interview with Vian about anti-aging secrets).

Vian photo

Vian Sharef

After my session, I came home and looked in the mirror and asked myself: given all that I know today, what would I say to my younger self if she was present with me in this room?

I would say this:

Learn to love yourself from the inside-out because, inevitably, the outside package will change. Focus on developing a beautiful mind.

Education and higher learning is my top value. It hasn’t always been, but most certainly since my late twenties after an accident changed my life. As I am presently in the midst of writing final exams for a wine specialist course that I am taking out of personal interest, today I asked myself why I put myself through the stress of studying. And as I gaze in the mirror, looking backward, and forward, now I remember why.

And so, I continue my journey of developing a beautiful mind.

Tonight on Shannon Skinner Live: anti-aging secrets with beauty expert Vian Sharef


TORONTO, June 16, 2015 — Tonight on Shannon Skinner Live radio show, host Shannon speaks with beauty expert and owner of Toronto-based Dermedix Laser Clinic, Vian Sharef, about beauty and anti-aging secrets. Tune-in to VoiceAmerica Women at 7pm EST/ 4PM Pacific.

Vian photoVian Sharef, owner, Dermedix Laser Clinic

Shannon Skinner Live is a weekly radio show that uncovers the stories and solutions to living an extraordinary life and making this world a better place. It features interviews with experts, visionaries and activists, and more.

About Vian Sharef:

Vian Sharef is a single mother, beauty expert and the founder and owner of Dermedix Laser Clinic, based in Toronto. Born and raised in Iraq, Vian came to Canada as a teenager with her family, after living in a refugee camp for 3 years in Turkey. She would eventually achieve a successful career in the financial services industry  – and get married. Later, in 2008, life would have its challenges again. Vian lost her father, job and her marriage disintegrated within 6 months, and, as a single mother to a young daughter, she made the decision to go back to school to study medical aesthetics. Today, she is a successful businesswoman and has helped thousands of women and girls look and feel their best.

About Shannon Skinner:

Shannon Skinner is a Canadian television talk show host, speaker and writer. In 2010, she launched Shannon Skinner’s Extraordinary Women TV, the first of its kind, as a live web TV show, and later developed it into an broadcast television show and online platform that is the ultimate online life-guidance resource for women. She is the author of the Whispering Heart: Your Inner Guide to Creativity; and she writes on a range of topics, including creativity, inspiration, feminine leadership, change and travel.

Eyelash extensions, the perfect beauty touch for summer

Recently, I have noticed a growing number of women sporting exceptionally long, lush eyelashes. So I got curious and whenever I commented on their lashes, the women would admit, sometimes with great enthusiasm, to wearing eyelash extensions — one of today’s biggest beauty trends.

What I noticed is that eyelash extensions create an illusion of the eye being more open and wider than it normally is, giving the eyes that “wow” factor. I secretly wanted to try them, but was reluctant. That is, until I sat down with Toronto-based PR guru, Shauna Ireland, over an insightful conversation about the essence of natural beauty. According to Ireland, who represents a number of clients in the health and wellness area, is a fashionista, yoga nut, and happens to flutter lovely eyelashes herself, women do not need to wear as much makeup as we think we do on a day-to-day basis. “Just having lovely eyelashes and healthy, glowing skin is all we need,” says Ireland.

With that insight in mind, I decided to go for that magical optical illusion, adding a little pizzazz to my eyelashes — and not only for day-to-day, but also to give that little extra bit for when I’m on camera hosting my talk show, Extraordinary Women TV. And so, I booked an appointment with Elena Gaysinsky, an experienced and talented esthetician at The Private World of Mary Tripi salon, located in Toronto’s Yorkville area; my favourite salon and a place that has become, in a way, a personal sanctuary.

The Procedure:

To start, my lower eyelashes were taped down to keep them out of the way for what would be about a two-hour procedure. I found it a bit odd at first, but within minutes I relaxed into it. My upper lashes were also taped and then an adhesive was applied to my lashes. I was given a choice of lashes: natural-looking or glamour-style. So I went for the gusto and chose glamour.

Then began the tedious procedure of gluing one false eyelash, made of synthetic silk, onto my real eyelashes — one-at-a-time. More than 100 eyelashes were added to each eye. At the end of the procedure, my esthetician ran an electric, heated eyelash curler (I had no idea they existed) through the lashes to give an upward curve for the final look.

The cost ranges from $175-$250, depending on what style you choose from.

The Look:

Here is the result: what my eyelashes looked like BEFORE and AFTER the procedure.

BEFORE: my natural eyelashes before extensions (done at The Private World of Mary Tripi salon, Toronto)













After Care:

Gaysinsky, who seems to genuinely enjoy what she does for a living because, she says, with a soft Ukrainian accent, she loves to see the transformation of her clients, advised me not to use any petroleum-based makeup products, avoid cotton, sleep with a satin pillowcase, if possible, and whatever I do, do not use a regular eyelash curler – but use a heated electric one instead. While the extensions should last about six weeks (they start falling out when your natural lashes do), I am to go back to have them filled after a few weeks.

For someone who could not live without mascara, I love my new lashes simply because when I wake up in the morning, I’m good to go. While I can use mascara (water-based) if I wish, it is not a necessity. And it’s perfect for summer because that means no smeared mascara underneath my eyes in the hot, humid weather! If you choose to try the eyelash extensions, just be sure to go to someone who is trained and experienced.

The Private World of Mary Tripi is located in Yorkville, and they will soon be moving to a new location. So call first to book your appointment at (416) 968-3303 /

Tune-in tonight for Extraordinary Women TV on Rogers TV: episode 17

Extraordinary Women TV with Shannon Skinner





Tonight on Extraordinary Women TV on Rogers TV: episode #17
special guests: recording artist Anna Cyzon; PLUS Toronto icon and hairstylist, Mary Tripi

TORONTO, May 6, 2013 – On tonight’s episode of Extraordinary Women TV, host Shannon Skinner speaks with Canadian recording artist, Anna Cyzon about her latest EP release, inspiration behind her music and her career as a host of eTalk and MTV; PLUS Toronto icon and hairstylist, Mary Tripi, owner of The Private World of Mary Tripi salon, who talks about beauty and the importance of taking care of ourselves, and why, at 73 years of age, she is opening a new salon. Tune-in to Rogers TV Cable 10 & 63 in Toronto/Scarborough tonight for this 17th episode at 7:30 pm ET.

Extraordinary Women TV with Shannon Skinner is the first-of-its-kind web TV talk show that is an inspirational, relevant and informative resource for women who want to follow their hearts and dreams. In January 2013, the show began airing on Rogers TV Cable 10 & 63 in Toronto/Scarborough Monday nights at 7:30 pm ET, with repeats throughout the week.

Shannon’s guests are successful women from all walks of life – many high-profile — from Toronto and across Canada, from a range of industries, including: arts and entertainment, business, finance, charities, eco, media, experts – and more. Some notable guests include: singers/songwriters Suzie McNeil, Sarah Slean and Amy Sky; news director/anchor, Kym Geddes; media personality/relationship expert Jen Kirsch; journalist/author Jan Wong; fashion designer and Canadian icon, Linda Lundstrom; businesswomen Rebecca MacDonald (Just Energy) and Kelsey Ramsden (Belvedere Place Development); actresses Sarena Parmar, Lisa Berry; Plan Canada’s Rosemary McCarney; former Chatelaine editor Rona Maynard; among many others.

More than 200 one-on-one, in-studio interviews have been conducted and archived since its inception in September 2010.

Rogers TV’s full scheduling information: click here.

The “soft” power of women and the drawbacks of beauty

What is power? What does it mean to be powerful?

And is a woman’s power any different from that of a man’s?

As a woman, these are questions I find myself returning to time and time again. In my quest to understand a woman’s power, I regularly read about extraordinary women’s lives, I observe women everywhere, I follow high-profiled women in the media, and I interview women.

Some of the women who I follow in the media include Kate Middleton, Queen Elizabeth and other royal women, since they generate so much interest; plus they are surrounded by mystery. I’ve blogged about Kate in the past, and I will continue to do so because, arguably, she is powerful. Her power shows up not in having done or contributed much of anything significant really, except for photo opportunities. She has not invented any gadget, nor is she a leader in any industry. Though she has, apparently, helped boost the business of British fashion designers.

Kate’s power shows up in a more quiet, understated way: her beauty. Her feminine energy.

The Guardian journalist, Ros Coward, makes some interesting comments about the British royal women; particularly about the Queen having “soft” power, meaning ruling with feminine attributes. Coward states that the women are the face of the monarchy – and their future.

Like Kate, Princess Diana had that same kind of beauty and feminine power.

Make no mistake, the monarchy knows this and has used it to its fullest advantage as it molds and manufactures Kate’s public image to win over the hearts of British and the people of the Commonwealth. Anyone in the media knows perfectly well that “kids and puppies” make great photo opportunities.

Why? Our hearts open.

But, there is a — gasp!drawback to Kate’s beauty — and the world’s obsession with it.

I am reminded by the tragic Irish mythological heroine, Deirdre, (often referred to as “Deirdre of the Sorrows”), from Pre-Christian times, whose beauty caused kings and lords to wage war and who ultimately died young because of her beauty.

I discovered Deirdre years ago when I was researching Celtic mythology for a project I was working on. This heroine stood out in my mind because I thought it was so fascinating, not to mention tragic, that her beauty was her biggest drawback. As a society, we admire and worship beauty, but we forget, or are not aware, that there are also drawbacks to beauty.

Deirdre is not the only example in either mythology or recent history when a woman’s beauty caused or led to her untimely death, either directly or indirectly. In fact, there are plenty of examples, including Marilyn Munroe and, more recently, Princess Diana. Think of how the world obsessed about every move they made. Marilyn couldn’t live up to the public’s expectations of her. In her case, her beauty indirectly led to her death. In the case of Diana, it was the obsession to get one more image of her – like we didn’t have enough – that directly caused her death.

And so, back to Kate…

Kate’s “softer” power, her beauty, is dangerous – but, only to her. Think of all the energy and buzz constantly being created world-wide about her; all the photos and images that appear in media and blogs daily (including this one). Gee, even Irish soldiers pass out at her beauty while handing out shamrocks (okay, I’m not sure that is why, but the media jokingly made it look like that). That’s a lot of pressure.

It is also a tremendous amount of attention — on her.


© Shannon Skinner 2012

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