Today, I’m going to let everyone in on a little secret. It comes from an utterly unexpected source – a television game show – and it offers a surprising bit of hope, and perhaps may be a comfort to those who are angered and saddened more often than not when switching on their TVs. But first, a little backstory of how I came upon this secret and how it’s made an unexpected difference in my life.

I’ve watched "The Price Is Right" all my life, with Drew Carey, Bob Barker, Tom Kennedy, Dennis James, and even the wonderful Bill Cullen, and always enjoyed its playful, colorful vibe and pricing games. Like most people, I viewed the show on occasion – home from school in the summertime or when in bed nursing a cold, in-between work tasks and in need of a coffee break, while playing with my kids on the floor or feeding a baby in a high chair, and even on vacation in the fanciest of hotels. But just over four years ago, I became a daily viewer, locked into a new routine at home that I did not like and did not want.

The day after Christmas, 2014, I was rushed to the emergency room in full diabetic ketoacidosis, a life-threatening condition. I was absolutely stunned to be given a diagnosis of the auto-immune disease Type I diabetes, often known as juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes. Four months later, I received a diagnosis of another auto-immune condition, Crohn’s Disease, and a year after that, a heart aneurysm. It seemed like my body was rejecting me, and I went from being a healthy mom of three and concert photographer to someone who had to be managed by a team of doctors, tied to special diets and needles and monitors that beeped at me 24 hours a day and endless waits for endless medical appointments. Far more cruel than any of this was the loss of my mom in 2016, my champion and dearest friend. All of this was, and is, tough to bear. But I am not a quitter, so I get up every day and do what I have to do.

One thing I have to do now is get up and eat and take insulin pretty much on schedule. This schedule happens to coincide with “The Price Is Right” broadcast time, so this has become my little morning routine, my food and pot of delicious Seattle coffee and an hour with TPIR. And this is where, after a couple of years, I came to understand why instead of dreading getting up, I started looking forward to it and my time watching the show.

On its face, the show is a simple consumer-culture entertainment vehicle, a celebration of all that we buy, or wish we could buy. But beyond the bells and buzzers and bright colors, beyond the games and excitement of the winners or losers, there is an attitude on “The Price Is Right” that acts as a subtle antidote to the vitriol of our divided country. For at least one hour a day, I see all kinds of people -- from rich to poor, men and women, black, white, Asian, Hispanic, Native American, athletes or the disabled, hipsters to military personnel, gay or straight, 18-year-olds still in high school to 90-year-old grandmas who can still give the wheel a good spin – and they are not only getting along, they act as a family. There are hugs and cheers and high-fives for all. There are congratulations and graceful exits. When one wins, it is a triumph; when one loses, they are equally embraced. A family, made up of all the beautiful shades of humanity, acting like we all should act toward each other every day. 

Over time, I realized that I felt better after watching TPIR, that the fun and camaraderie was making an impact on me in ways I never would’ve expected. The underlying message of tolerance and support in the show was heartening, and helped me face the day feeling happier and stronger. For me, this is huge, and is now part of the daily self-care that makes me feel empowered to do more and do better for myself and others.

So this is the little secret: in its unique and very powerful way, seen by millions each weekday, “The Price Is Right” shows us that we still have it in us to be kind and supportive, that our differences are just fine, that veterans and cancer survivors and shelter pets deserve our special love and attention, and that we are loved, even if we get all zeros in Plinko.