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I love to watch The Real Housewives of… Well, any city, state or county. New York City, New Jersey, Orange County, Beverly Hills, Atlanta. I’m there. And, I love the spin-off, Bethenny Ever After. (I even emailed Bethenny to invite her to be a guest on the talk show to discuss forgiveness.)

The reality of their lives fascinates. They live in beautiful homes, they eat out a lot (and don’t gain weight), they attend parties on school nights, they bicker constantly with each other and then meet the next day for shopping and lunch.

It’s like walking through the neighborhood at night so you can get a peak inside the neighbors’ houses. Oh, what you can see when the lights are on.

Sometimes, though, the reality ends up being a fantasy. We learn that some of these real housewives spend too much and land in bankruptcy. It seems these stars have a public face they wish to show, at any cost.

I spent time this weekend with friends I don’t see often. The friends spoke for quite a long time about their cars, why they drive what they drive, what they’ll buy next, what cars they admire.

As the talk of cars spun around me, I almost moved my chair. Their reality—a reality of the newest, the fanciest—seemed so foreign. They seemed to speaking a language I didn’t understand.

I remember thinking: But… I thought everyone talked about how to make the most of the lives, of how to manage stressful situations with grace, of how to provide quality of life when quality seems scarce.

Then I realized: That’s what you do. And, you’re not everyone. Caregiving certainly sucks. It drains you—emotionally, financially, physically. But, it makes you such a wonderful dinner companion. You have insights and perspectives on life that make your company so much better than the company of those who only know about the latest car models.

I’ll always enjoy watching reality TV. It’s a terrific distraction.

But I’ll always find your reality so much more compelling and worthwhile. Your light is always on. I can see who you are because you live who you are.

From you, I learn that life, well lived with a real heart and soul, brings in the best ratings.


  • Our Caregiving Summer School, Session II, starts next week! Our classes will help you understand where you’ve been so you can plan for where you’re going on your caregiving journey. Our classes also help you start your journal; set boundaries; accept help; and start Mondays on the right foot. Each class costs $27 and takes place conveniently over the phone. Register today here.
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About Denise

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I began working with family caregivers in 1990 and launched in 1996 to help and support them. Through my blog, I share words of comfort and offer coping strategies and tips. I also write opinion pieces about recent research, community programs and media coverage of caregiving issues. I've written several caregiving books, including "The Caregiving Years, Six Stages to a Meaningful Journey," "Take Comfort, Reflections of Hope for Caregivers" and "After Caregiving Ends, A Guide to Beginning Again." You can purchase my books and schedule a coaching call with me in our store.

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  1. Beautifully written, Denise. I’ll share a little secret: the more time I spend caregiving, writing, advocating and educating, the more difficult it is to feel fulfilled at my day job. Shh! Don’t tell. :-)

    Twitter: robertssister1
    caregiving. family. advocacy.

    • Know what you mean Trish. For me my day job is the answer to the perennial question, “what are you doing for yourself?” I go to work everyday. When I get the predicatable puzzled look, I explain that the 8 plus hrs per day that I spend at work are far easier than anything I have to deal with the 16 hrs of the day. I go to work to rest and refresh for the much harder task always awaiting me of solo parent and caregiver.

  2. Wow. Quite thought-provoking, Denise! Like you, I listen to people discuss their big concerns such as getting their child on the right club soccer team, where to buy a new sofa, and what new outfit to buy their dog!! I have hoped that I didn’t actually roll my eyes at times. is an example of the beauty of the Internet. It allows caregivers to come together when we can to support, comfort, console, and encourage each other. It helps to have a place to meet with like-minded individuals dealing with similar experiences.

  3. It’s so nice to see these thoughts put into words – thank you Denise.

    It’s interesting that caregiving can be so hard, and at times so awful, and at one time, I worried I would lose myself in it, yet caregiving now has actually given me the ability to find.

    To find, and know, what’s important to look for.

    I’m so grateful for this community here at that has changed that focus for me.


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