By Frank Vascellaro, WCCO-TV
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — When it comes to good jobs, one that gets you on Oprah and a trip to the White House is sure hard to beat.
So why would anyone want to give up the glamor and pay of a great gig on national TV?
Joan Steffend spent nearly 20 years on television in the Twin Cities. But her career really took off when she took a chance and left.
Now, she’s given it all up again to redesign her life.
Steffend was at the top of her game. Giving Regis a live decorating tour on national TV was just one example of her enormous popularity. Not to mention, she was on the show that makes careers.
Even Oprah Winfrey wanted decorating tips from Joan. It seems like she had it all. But looks can be deceiving.
“It was everything I thought I wanted — home, family, dog, job in 80 million homes, HGTV, great projects and I felt sad,” she said.
So sad, she left Home and Garden Television in 2007. The network realized her warmth and charisma made her a star. But Steffend said no to a six-figure deal.
“Quitting has been good for me. Every time I’ve quit something, the world has opened up in a new way for me,” she said.
She was right.
Several people told her she was crazy to leave local news after 17 years, but she did, and that made it easier to say goodbye to HGTV.
“I felt in my heart that there was something else that I wanted to accomplish in my life and it had to do with spirit and it had to do with joy and it had to do with being a broadcaster of that of sorts,” Steffend said.
She has always been very spiritual, but her search for real joy may have been accelerated by great sadness.
“There’s been a lot of loss in my life,” Steffend said.
Her dad died unexpectedly following surgery 11 years ago.
Her mother is really sick.
And she watched her sister Karen battle cancer for 20 years before passing away. She’s also been the victim of assault.
“I’m a human being just like everyone else is and I have issues and I have struggled, struggled, struggled,” she said.
Her life journey came pouring out in a recently published book.
“I was writing it to try and figure out my own place in life and what was going on with my feelings,” she said.
The book’s about her realization that she’s done what most of us do our entire lives, conform.
Steffend was living up to the standards of others and constantly being measured. She calls it being covered in layers.
“The culture told me who I was.The educational system told me who I was. My parents told me who I was and I think I kind of got lost in the morass there,” she said.
So Steffend raised daughters, Jordan and Blair, to follow their own path and not give in to outside pressure.
The new Steffend is extremely open, honest and willing to talk about anything.
She does it every Saturday morning on FM107 co-hosting a radio show called, “Get Real.” The self-described people-pleaser now thinks of herself.
“Like I thought my worst sin was to be boring. I never worried about being bored but I worried about being boring,” she said.
And the new Steffend uses a new word.
“It’s the idea of knowing who you are and I get to say no,” she said. “And there was a little bit of ‘Ooh, she said no.'”
The path for Steffend was a courageous assessment of what’s important. She completed a real interior design.
“I would give a lot to have the firm thighs back of (age) 35,” she said with a laugh. “But I would not, but I have never been happier and I’m so excited because I know the best part of my life is still ahead of me.”