Filling days with family, friends, and activities: Stephanie Adler Calliott

by | Feb 2, 2023 | Trending News

Jewish News: Where were you educated?

Stephanie Adler Calliott: I attended the University of Maryland College Park and had the best four years as a Terp. My college roomies and I are still very close.

JN: What was your work history?

SAC: When I graduated from college, I wanted to be an actress or a bank branch manager. With zero talent, the actress thing didn’t work out. I applied to and got turned down by every bank Management Associate program in Virginia, Maryland, and DC. So, I put my typing skills to work and started out as a glamorous college-educated hourly temp with a brokerage company. So much for starting at the top! I got my licenses, said YES to everything, and then spent almost 30 years in executive management at Bank of America and Wells Fargo Wealth Management—helping families create, grow, manage, and distribute their wealth. I followed that with eight years as SVP at Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters helping people give the gift of good health to children who needed it. Meaningful work at both ends of my career.

JN: When did you retire?

SAC: I retired in 2018.

JN: What convinced you to take the leap?

SAC: Retirement can be a blindfolded leap into the unknown, which can either invigorate or frighten you. I have found retirement to be a gift of joy—saying “yes” to things I’d never had enough time to enjoy such as visits to the fields in Pungo, birthday lunches on a weekday, babysitting grandchildren, reading a book in the middle of the day, learning pickleball, traveling mid-week, more cooking, more mahj, and many hours of nothing.

JN: Did you have a plan for what you would do with your time?

SAC: I knew I’d find new things to do, but waking up that first morning with an empty calendar was a big change. I didn’t have a “from-now-on-I’ll-do-this” plan, but I knew the things I wanted to do more of.

JN: Now that you’re a grandmother (yikes!), how has that impacted your retirement days?

SAC: I never knew how much joy I’d find in grandchildren. Some women grow up wanting to babysit, become mothers, and ultimately grandmothers. I always worked, and when my son asked “Mom, now that you’re retired, do you want to babysit a few days/week?” I was frozen with fear. Yikes. What if I’m not good at this? What if I’m not that woman? What if I don’t like it? But of course, I said “uh, sure. I’d be happy to help.” It was a great gift. I knew right away that I WAS that woman. I WAS good at it. I WAS lucky to have this opportunity. I didn’t know my heart could get any bigger. And I cannot get enough of it.

JN: Where do you volunteer? Do you have a favorite place?

SAC: I resigned from a lot of boards when I retired. I stayed involved in some civic activities (chair of the Norfolk Retirement System, vice chair Virginia College Building Authority, and as a jury commissioner) and some community activities (United Jewish Federation of Tidewater, ACCESS College Foundation). My favorite place is with my family.

JN: Do you use your professional skills in some of your volunteer work?

SAC: Women are not always kind to each other in the workplace. Competition has a way of creating friction—some try to outrun other talented versus pulling them alongside. So, I’ve tried to mentor women in many aspects of that juggling act—collaboration at work and a healthy home life. It’s not always easy. But it’s always worth it.

JN: Do you have any days just to relax? If so, what do you do?

SAC: Every now and then I do a little bit of nothing. But my most enjoyable days are filled with activity, family, and good friends.

JN: Did you start picking and preserving after you retired?

SAC: I remember my friends asking, “want to go strawberry picking with us tomorrow?”

And I’d respond “uh, no. It’s a Wednesday. I’m working.” “Take the day off!”

And I’d reply, “I’m not taking a vacation day to go strawberry picking!” But once I retired, I found myself picking peaches, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, figs, and buying bushels of corn and tomatoes. The next thing I knew, my sister taught me how to can and I was up to my elbows making jams, salsa, sauces, and relish. It was and still is so much fun. And delicious!

JN: You always seem to be connecting… house hunters with sellers, room seekers with landlords, volunteers, etc. Did you do this pre-retirement?

SAC: I’ve been a connector. From day one. Can’t turn that off!

JN: What about travel? Are you and Don and/or your sisters able to hit the road more often?

SAC: We love to travel. We do family trips, friend trips, and college roomie trips. The gift of free time has just increased the ability to go and do.

JN: What has been a favorite destination?

SAC: There are so many beautiful places to visit and I’ve been fortunate. On paper, it sounds extravagant. In real life, it was joyful and fulfilling: biking the San Juan Islands, a jeep ride on safari, a cooking class in Greece, the markets in Italy, hiking in Croatia, the beauty of Lake Louise, cooking hotdogs over a fire pit at Douthat State Park, a lobster roll on a working dock in Maine. The best money I’ve ever spent has been on travel. And the trip I’ll remember forever is the April 2018 one to Israel with my sisters and our dad—a lifelong dream destination for him.

JN: In general, are you glad you retired? Do you ever miss working?

SAC: Retirement has been great. The timing. The opportunity. The benefits. I loved working. And I love not working. I find that I’m happiest wherever I am.

JN: Do you feel any healthier? Less stressed?

SAC: Free time can definitely lead to a healthier lifestyle.

JN: Do you have any advice for someone considering retirement?

SAC: My husband once read that a happy and fulfilling retirement depends on your having 12 “things.” It doesn’t matter what they are. Hobbies. Activities. Things that are yours. Maybe your list is tennis, reading, family, gardening, coin collecting, etc. It doesn’t matter. People who retire with nothing other than their job may have a difficult time. My list is long. I wish I had more time to do everything.

JN: Last comments?

SAC: Do what makes you feel good. Not at the expense of others, of course. Be charitable. Be kind. Be grateful. Be good. Be you.

-Terri Denison