Magnificently Magnificent…

and she sparkled

“There once was a little girl and she sparkled”   ~ Joan Steffend ~

I met a most MAGNIFICENT woman this week… Joan Steffend Brandmeier.  She came to speak at a small women’s circle that is held in my yoga instructor’s home.  I really did not know what to expect… I knew that there was something about peace… that Joan had started some type of peace project…  but I really didn’t know what that meant. Maybe it had something to do about  raising money to send to other countries as a peace initiative similar to what other celebrities do.

Joan was a “national Emmy-winning reporter and anchor and… host of HGTV’s Decorating Cents” and a well-known face and name here in Minnesota.  One would have thought she had it made in terms of her career, self-confidence and happiness… however,  we often see only what other’s want us to see and we do not truly know how others may be feeling deep within their spirits…

A vibrant personality with red hair (those two always seem to go together…), Joan always brought her energy to the screen.  Energy… yes, that is a great word to describe Joan.  Full of energy and an abundance of humor…, a woman who draws you in because of her zest and enthusiasm… but as I learned that evening, Joan had lost that incredible energy for a time in her life.  Did we see it on the TV screen?  Absolutely not!  Joan is like so many of us… we wear many masks when we want to hide who we are or how we are feeling.

Joan told her story… the story of a child who sparkled.  A child who loved to act and dance and be… magnificent… but it became a burden when she felt the need to conform as she grew older.  A burden because she just didn’t fit… not a fit within her family…  not a fit within society… so she stopped.  She stopped being the child who loved to express her joy… and she stopped not caring that she was different.

As Joan talked, the women around the circle were all shaking our heads in agreement… some of us with tears in our eyes as we felt a deep sadness for the small child who had been lost when Joan was transitioning into her “grown up” life.  We all could feel in the depths of our souls that there were times in our younger lives when we had lost some of our inner light.  We  shared stories of how we were told things as children to help make us conform to “acceptable” behavior…  told that we could or couldn’t do something based on our physical attributes (or lack thereof) … or what I consider the worst of worst…  how sometimes we are told that our personalities are not appropriate and we should stop feeling or acting or being who we are because we won’t be accepted… that we will not fit

At one point, I blurted out “I just had an epiphany!”.  It was in that small group of women when I realized why I never cooked or baked throughout my whole adulthood.  I literally NEVER cook or bake.  I always said I hated cooking or baking… but I realized that night with Joan Steffend that I was living a big old fat LIE.  I used to love to be in the kitchen as a young girl.  I would turn on the radio,  singing along with The Monkeys, Bobby Sherman, or my all time favorite… Peter, Paul and Mary, and I would BAKE!  I would bake banana bread as my grandma had taught me to do… I would bake Tollhouse cookies and eat the chocolate chip cookie dough with my fingers… I would twirl and sing and dance in the kitchen of my childhood home… I was happy…

Then one day I was a 14-year-old girl standing in my 9th grade Home Ec class and we were making French dressing.  The recipe called for one clove of garlic… now tell me, who the heck knows what a clove of garlic is at the tender age of 14?  Apparently the rest of the class knew what a clove was and did not put in the whole bulb of garlic like I did.  My teacher (and yes, I can still see her face…) came up beside me and said “maybe you would do better taking the art class…”.  I looked at her mortified and blurted out “BUT I CAN’T DRAW!”

That little girl never baked again…  the joy of dancing around a kitchen was snuffed out in one little conversation… the light of her magnificence was burned out… and 41 years later,  I still avoid the kitchen except to grab something from the fridge or fill a glass with water…

Listening to Joan that night was such joy…, I had a smile from ear-to-ear and I went home after meeting her bursting through  the door, excitedly telling my husband “WOW! I just met the most awesome woman… what an incredible lady!”.

I purchased two of Joan’s books and I cannot wait to go see my granddaughter in 10 days and read her Joan’s book “… and she sparkled“.  I cannot wait to set her on my lap at her tender age of two and read her the story of a little girl who sparkled, lost her brilliance for a while and then regained it back again.  I want my granddaughter growing up knowing that she is magnificent in every way and nothing should ever stop her from  from feeling that way.  I want every little girl… every little boy… and every pre-teen… every teenager…  and every adult … to embrace who they are… to love their magnificence…  and to continue to sparkle.

Yes, I had the most magnificent evening, meeting a most magnificent lady while sharing the night with a group of magnificent women!

I encourage you to buy Joan’s book … and she sparkled for your family, your friends,… and most of all… for you!  You can find her book at Barnes and Noble or through

Did you ever lose your sparkle as you were growing up?  If so,  what was that sparkle that made you special?

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