Blog Posts by Jessica Ashley, Senior Editor

  • Is being selfish as a parent really a bad thing?

    Go on with yer selfish self.Go on with yer selfish self.When the news broke that Mila Kunis and Macaulay Culkin (holy oh hell, he's 30?!) ended an eight-year relationship (wait...they were together?), it wasn't the announcement of yet another celebrity ending that stopped me. Nor was it the point-blank statement by Kunis that she is not really down with the whole marriage thing (maybe a good thing in Hollywood?). What made me re-read the gossip column was a bit Kunis had to say about parenting. One day. Far off. In the un-selfish future.

    While she says she is not sold on being wed, she'd like a family that includes kids.

    "Not to say that I don't believe in [marriage], but it's just not something that's important to me. But I will have children. I'm too selfish to have them now, but when I do, I don't feel like I need to be married. I need to have a person in my life who will care for me and my children -- nothing else," Kunis said.

    It struck me that Kunis both recognizes that she is selfish right now and also that she thinks you aren't

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  • Resolutions: yes or no?

    I'm not generally a believer in resolutions. I like goals. I love a plan. I am all for striving to be a better, healthier, happier person and I really do like the idea of assessing that all as the calendar turns over.

    But resolutions are so...loaded. Plus, I just don't think one thing cuts it for a whole year. Of course, many of us want to lose weight. Sure, most folks want to be more financially fit. Absolutely, a big percentage of people would like their bodies to jiggle less, to be better rested, to stop smoking, to ease up on the happy hour cocktails, to leave a crap relationship by this time next year. But with one big umbrella resolution, I wonder how many people just feel overwhelmed or exhausted and abandon the ambition weeks, days, or even hours in.

    Or maybe that's just me. While I need an intricate road map to achieving my goals, preferably scrawled out on 17 sticky notes adhered to the edge of my laptop, perhaps you are the kind of person who can say, "Yep, I am losing

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  • Be honest: Did you overdo it with the gifts for kids?

    I go through it every single year - the scramble on Christmas Eve to get just a few more gifts for the small child. You know, just in case I haven't piled enough presents under the tree and tucked into the stockings already. On the tiny chance my mother didn't once again trump Santa with carts and carts of toys and books purchased over the course of twelve months. Or if there's any remaining possibility we will one day be judged at the pearly gates on a formula of parenting that includes most awesomely over-done gift-giving.

    As ridiculous and irrational as it is, there I am at Toys R Us or Target or similar, buying a few more somethings. Then, also like clockwork, 12 hours later I wishing I'd held back a bit or at least reserved a few for the next holiday.

    I'm not talking ponies or Wii systems or major extravagances for my one little boy. But could he maybe have three or four fewer Lego sets? Yes. Is there a pile of as-yet untouched Christmas gifts still sitting in his room a week

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  • Would you let your toddler pick out her own holiday gifts?

    When my son was still a newborn, wrapped up in Santa onesies and "My first Christmas" bibs, my mother told me the story of the first few holiday seasons they celebrated with me as a baby. She told me about pushing me through the toy store in a cart and holding up toys to gauge my reaction.

    No response? My parents put them back. A slight response? Still not good enough. Wide eyes and giggles? Into the cart!

    My parents didn't have much money back then and so it wasn't a frivolous shopping trip. They delighted in seeing their baby delighted and that's where they chose to put their Christmas budget.

    It's lovely and sweet and paints this picture for me of my parents, young and excited, sharing this fun holiday moment with me long before I was old enough to be cognizant about everything that was going on.
    But when I heard it as a new mother myself, I was aghast.

    Sure, we could blame it on hormones or stress or lack of sleep or even the mama-bear instinct that immediately sets in after

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  • Be honest: How often do you really have a designated driver?

    There's a holiday party tonight with my friends and it occurred to me as I made my prep check-list - cute sequin top, fun little hostess gift, invitation details, babysitter - that what was most pressing was making sure I scheduled a cab to drop me off and pick me up from the festivities.

    It seems like so much more of a hassle to stand in the slushy snow in my new suede boots to wait for a ride than it would be to hop in my own car and head downtown, a trip that takes only a few minutes when I take it on my own. And I can't say I am amped about handing over $50 or more in taxi fares instead of popping a few dollars' worth of quarters in a meter. But really, those snags in the schedule are small.

    I know the best decision is paying a cabbie to be my designated driver. Of course. The bonus is that I can go and have a glass of wine and not stress about whether there will be enough food there (my tolerance is low, friends, and a few stuffed mushrooms can leave me feeling buzzy from one

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  • The best, worst, and kookiest quotes of 2010: Which one is your favorite?

    It's not enough that we're inundated with 24-hour news. We also wrangle status updates, tweets, six to ten email inboxes, texts, the stuff our mothers detail to us on the phone, nightly updates from Giuliana Rancic, and piles of half-read People magazines. Seriously, it's a lot to process.

    The Shine editors have condensed all of that talk down to twenty quotes we think say a lot about this year. They're not all brilliant and certainly can't encapsulate all of 2010. And let's be honest, most of won't inspire you to do good works in the year ahead. But they will make you remember some notable moments and public figures, controversies, gaffes, and guffaws, as well as make you wonder if it's worth tuning out or turning up a lot more in the New Year.

    Here are the words we found to be pretty awesome, slightly insane, and kind of hilarious this year.

    Talk back! What favorite quotes do you have to add to the bunch?

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  • Jillian says buh-bye to "The Biggest Loser": What should she do next?

    Jillian Michaels made a major professional announcement the way any respectable celeb does these days - yep, on Twitter.

    She posted a message to fans saying she's kicking herself off of the show that made her famous, tweeting:

    Season 11 of Biggest Loser will be my last :) have to finish out my contract.

    The trainer we love to see get all yelly has been vocal about wanting to adopt a child and has said, "I want to take a year off TV and focus on becoming a mommy and doing more charity work."

    With DVDs, a Wii game, weight-loss products, and a show of her own already under her belt, I'm curious to see what projects - and if they are professional as well as parental - Jillian Michaels has lined up once she's done with "The Biggest Loser."

    If you could bark back at the lady who has made people cry, scream, sweat more than any of us thought humanly possible with orders to do a thousand excuse-squashing crunches, what would you tell her to do next?

    What kind of show would you like to see

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  • Where are my leg warmers? Jane Fonda is back

    I have this wonderful/frightening feeling that there is a group of really hardcore, old school fitness ladies -- the aerobics originals, if you will -- who are still devoted to rewinding and then pushing play to sweat to the oldies every morning.

    These women will probably live forever, and leading them forward on the march to firmer rumps and countless leg lifts will most certainly be Jane Fonda. At 72, she has just released two new fitness DVDs, has an upcoming book on aging fabulously, and would like to get moving on her own television series. Her last workout video was released in 1995.

    Fonda's pointing her jazz-shoed toe at Baby Boomers, who she'd like to see get more active in the "third act" of their lives.

    "It's the worst thing a person could do when they're older is to say, 'Why bother now? I'm older. I don't need to," she said. "I'm on this crusade to get older people out of the chairs, off their couches, moving in a way that's safe, easy and very doable even if they've

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  • A life comes to a close: Elizabeth Edwards dies at age 61

    Although we were prepared, after her own farewells penned on her Facebook profile and the statement by doctors saying further cancer treatment was futile, it feels too soon to lose Elizabeth Edwards. The lawyer, mother, health care advocate, and author died today in her Chapel Hill home. She was 61.

    She was born Mary Elizabeth Anania on July 3, 1949 in Jacksonville, Florida. Her family and friends were gathered around her in the final days of her life, and she offered praise and gratitude to the people who supported and inspired her.

    Edwards was quietly diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004 while husband John Edwards, then a senator, was running for vice president as John Kerry's running mate. Although the couple did not disclose her diagnosis until the election was over, she was immediately treated and believed to be in remission for several years. When the cancer returned in 2007, she pressed on, campaigning for her husband a second time. Even as it spread into her bones, Edwards

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  • What great things have you accomplished with the help of girlfriends?

    I am not alone in my sadness that the world will soon lose Elizabeth Edwards. I see it all over the statuses and tweets from women I know on many sides of the political spectrum -- there is an ache to lose a woman who has risen up with her own voice and opinions and grace and fire in the midst of a lot of men, media, and criticism. Even in the storm of her husband's campaigns and affair and controversy, Elizabeth Edwards kept on, unapologetically, just as she believed she should. That's a quality many of us, I think, admire and want to see. Some of us might have even publicly called her a personal hero.

    There was one update on Facebook this morning that stopped me. It was different from the sadness of saying to goodbye to Elizabeth Edwards or even reviewing the times some of us have met her or heard her speak. This update was by Erin Kotecki Vest, the author of Queen of Spain and social media strategist at BlogHer, and recalled the year Elizabeth Edwards spoke to an audience of

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