Stefani Calvano, 45, is the director of operations for Greenwich Medical Spa—a job that puts her on cloud nine and provides immense personal and
professional satisfaction. She even credits GMS founder Marria Pooya as her confidence role model, giving her support and encouragement she never imagined
Stefani’s journey to finding her inner strength has not been an easy road. She grew up being told that her life would be filled with struggle and roadblocks
that she could never push past. Until, she finally found the courage to take over the narrative and write herself the fairy tale she knew she deserved.
Here’s Stefani’s brave story of living the life she was told she would never have and how you can overcome any self-doubt that’s holding you back too.
. . .
My Dream Job . . .
“I’ve started to come into my own in the last like six to twelve months. Primarily it has to do with my job but also, I have an amazing support system
through my husband. He boosts me up as he sends me out the door. I have the extreme pleasure of being a part of the Greenwich Medical Spa team—being
surrounded by these women, it's so empowering. When I first started working there, I was actually intimidated by the idea of being surrounded by all
of these beautiful women and all of these treatments but becoming a part of the GMS community and really embracing myself and my body among them has
been life altering. Every day, I’m on cloud nine. I love what I do. It’s such a 180 from where I was working before and where I was in life. I came
from a toxic work environment so I'm so appreciative of the people that I work with now that make me want to give, give, give, give, give, appreciate
me and make me feel that my opinions and thoughts matter.”
Overcoming, Not Changing, The Past . . .
“I came from a lot of adversity. My father passed away. My mother was a single parent. My parents divorced when I was two months old and my mom never remarried.
She worked her tail off to put food on the table and keep things going in the house. As an only child, I was independent and left on my own a lot to
care for myself and make a lot of my own decisions. We were very much a working-class family where college wasn't encouraged. I was held back in the
sense that, well if you're not going to be a doctor, or a lawyer, you're not going to be this or that. It was, well, you don't need to go to college.
Just go to work and make a little bit of money—basically, mediocrity was okay, and encouraged. My mother did everything that she could and my
respect for her is fierce. But I also wanted better than that for my kids. As a young child, I was victim to years of sexual abuse. And so, that story
was don't tell anybody, nobody will believe you combined with the story I got at home from my mom that you're never going to be anything successful—so
just go out and be average.
I didn't really realize until I became an adult how that story was living inside of me and how I was just living in that story. And because of the abuse,
it affected every relationship I had with any man and ultimately ended up in me divorcing my kids’ father. At one point, I realized I was reliving
my mother's life. I was as a single mother with three kids and I could barely put food on the table at times. I had zero financial support. All of
my family lives across the country from me. It was a very subconscious thing when I realized I was reliving my mother's life—giving my kids what
I went through—which I swore I’d never let happen. So, I kicked it into gear, and I fudged my way through an interview for a job that was a little
bit over my head. I’m a smart girl and knew I could figure it out. I said I would teach myself a field and whatever I had do if I could just the job—and
I got it. I figured it out.”
Finding the Lessons in Tough Times . . .
“It was that milestone that set the tone to get that ball rolling, gain traction and start slowly pulling myself out of this hole. I could be that provider
for my kids, be there for them emotionally and be physically present for them—all the things that I was missing as a child. This was 13 years
ago, and it was a long 13 years. I worked in a job for seven years where my boss was beyond abusive with verbal assault and emotional distress. He’d
say things like, ‘For being such a smart girl, you make pretty f---ing bad choices.’ He tore up my paycheck in front of people because he didn't like
an answer that I gave him. So, for seven years I went through this whole other level of abuse—which I think was in alignment with the story that
I carried on from my childhood. I didn’t believe that I was worth any more than this. I knew that I was successful where I was, but I also knew that
I was being mistreated. It took me a very long time to get the courage to get out of that place and start fresh. The exchange for his abuse was that
he paid us very well and he had extremely high standards. So, I knew that I was in a place where I was learning something in a very backhanded way.
I got a lot of work skills through him and I learned a lot about running businesses. . . so, in the background, I’d put the abusive part of him to
the side and really learned as much as I could. I was determined to take those lessons with me. Fortunately, I got out. But it was tough so to be surrounded
by these amazing women every day at GMS and have the support and encouragement from our CEO Marria—she sees something in me that I didn't know
was there—and to really foster that has been phenomenal.”
Look On Outside How You Want to Feel on Inside
“Today, I feel unstoppable when I feel confident. It makes me realize that all of those stories are just that—stories. They're lines that somebody
said me and it's not my truth. It's not my reality. And I feel like I can do anything. There are certainly days that I feel stronger and better than
others. Being of short stature is obviously something I can't change. It's endearing as a teenager but as you grow to an adult and try to have a voice—it's
a little discouraging. But I throw on a pair of heels, add a few inches and all of a sudden, It's a game changer. And again, so many things for me
circle back to working at GMS. Prior to there, I always worked in environments where it was jeans, t-shirts and sneakers so having to dress the part
really encourages my whole mindset too. Going to work in yoga pants and a sweatshirt every day is a whole different field than actually blowing your
hair out, putting on some makeup and looking like you actually give a shit. That definitely changes my perspective, my mindset and really helps get
me into that right head space.”
The Good Challenges in Life
“My kids challenge me on a daily basis and being a parent is one of the single hardest jobs that anybody will ever have. There's no training or preparation
so being a parent is when, at times, I feel the least successful. My kids are good and they’re healthy and they don't get into trouble—but they
make me second guess myself on a daily basis, Was that the right decision? Did I make the right call? Did I handle that properly? And for me, as somebody
who's very black and white, it's either on or it's off. I don't like living in gray and I feel like being a parent, I have a full-time residency in
gray space and that's tricky for me.”
The Power of Unconditional Love
“My husband is my biggest fan. I always tell him that I feel our relationship is like the Gwyneth Paltrow movie Shallow Hal. I chronically feel like he
sees me as the supermodel version—and as long as that’s what he sees, I'm okay with that. He's a lawyer and a litigator so when I first met him,
he helped me up my game and find my voice. Before, I was a very timid, quiet person. I really felt like I didn't have much to offer and didn't have
much self-worth. Where I am today is completely different than when I met him 10 years ago. Between my husband coming into my life and then crossing
paths with Marria at GMS and really finding my voice there—I have this renewed sense of self and realize that my story was with lies. It was
a line that I was telling myself or that people had told me over the years. It's been nice to shed that story, stand a little taller and really embrace
where I am now.”
“I still struggle with giving myself pep talks when I feel down, to be honest. If I'm feeling down, I really have to do an inventory and say, ‘Look how
far you've come from—whether from being that little kid to now’ Being told that I was never going to be anything in life to reflecting back to
when we were scrounging for food and living in a house with no power or heat because I couldn't pay the utility bills. To look around now and see that
I live in a beautiful home, have my kids who are healthy, and I have a great job—I just take that inventory because whatever is getting me down
is nothing in comparison to the things that I've overcome.”