On January 26, 2022

‘Rutland changed me’

Newcomer adapts to Vermont life

By Victoria Gaither

Rutland, Vermont, is one of those cities that can make you or break you!

Just ask newcomer Stella Shalem, who traded in the beaches of Miami, Florida, for the cold of Rutland.

By Victoria Gaither
Rutland newcomer Stella Shalem lives by this motto, ‘Don’t wish for it, Work for it!’

“I had to learn everything about how to dress for the cold,” Shalem said. “Not only cold weather but mountain living. In Miami, my whole outfit was shorts and flip flops.”

The move to Rutland last year came as a result of Covid-19.

“My husband decided to move to be closer to the family after Covid — he wanted to be more in touch with family. The last thing I knew, we bought a house here, and I didn’t realize where I was going,” Shalem said.

She didn’t realize how cold and sometimes gray Rutland could be and how it’s a different lifestyle than Miami. “In Miami, when it’s under 70 degrees, people start to say, ‘it’s kind of chilly,’ but in Rutland, it’s about lifestyle,” Shalem said.

She continued, “People here want to play with their grandkids, go on the mountains, be active.”

At 49 years of age, Shalem, whose home country is Brazil, finds herself learning a whole new life and way of living.

For example, on a trail at Pine Hill Park, she saw a deer for the first time in her life.

“I was excited, but at the same time, I wasn’t sure if I should run or stay, he just stared at me, and it was a magical moment,” Shalem said.

Shalem recalled how her mother took her ice skating as a child back in her home country. Now, Shalem, a personal trainer, has signed up for ice skating classes and had her first ski lesson.

“I came full circle, and now I’m learning to ice skate and fall,” she laughed.

These magical moments are adding up quickly for her. She talked about finding cool shops and restaurants in downtown Rutland.

“You can find so many things downtown, and if you drive outside of Rutland, there are so many gorgeous places,” Shalem said.

She wasted no time as a personal trainer and has new clients while still offering classes to clients in Miami and Chicago through Zoom.

An emotional woman by nature, nothing brings tears to her eyes more than when you ask her about the people of Rutland.

“The people of Rutland are so nice! They speak to me, and they smile. You feel good being here,” Shalem said. “Rutland changed me. I learned things about myself, and I can change and grow. I discovered an inner strength.”

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