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My name is Kelly Stiefel Arias, and I live in Olathe, Kansas, a suburb of Kansas City. 

In July of 2020, I returned from a 9-month sabbatical in Valencia Spain, along with my husband Gonzalo, our 2 teenage daughters, and 2 Yorkie-poos!

When I launched Midlife Escape in November of 2017, we were living a very “normal” suburban life.  For privacy reasons, I initially wrote under the name Midlife Maggie.  While Maggie acknowledged that life was good, something was missing. She longed for a fresh adventure, to cast convention aside and hit the open road for a season.

Some might dismiss this as merely a Midlife Crisis.  Perhaps it was, in part.  This was my Ferrari, my facelift, my fling.  Whatever.

But the travel bug had been with me for as long as I could remember.  So had the desire to live somewhere outside of the United States for a time.

In Midlife, we realize there are no guarantees; all we have is today.  I didn't want to wait until Social Security Full Retirement Age (67) to do all those things I dream of doing.  Gonzalo and I decided that we should actively pursue life as the adventure that it is.  And we should do it now.

But Midlife is complicated, and we couldn’t leave right away.  We had kids, pets, careers, aging parents, a mortgage, bills to pay, 401k’s to fund, etc.  It’s a never-ending list, really, and it took time to sort it all out.

If this is your situation, believe me, I get it.  There were days when I wanted to just sell the house and go, but I knew it would be better to wait, save, and plan.

So I took the first step.  I wrote it down – both the intention and a specific launch-date – so I could start to move in the direction of my goal.  If you are planning any major life change, I highly recommend this!  I created a contract with myself, and we were better prepared financially as a result.  We were also on the same page as a couple.

This period of reflection, self-care, and family time was more important to me than the money we spent (and gave up, by not working for a year!).  I am a CFP® Professional, so I actually started to calculate the total cost of the trip at one point.  Then I cleared the screen and tossed my financial calculator aside because I didn't really want to know!

Here is the bottom line.  Our lives are more than a number.  Sometimes we need to take a leap of faith and do things just because that intuitive feeling says we should!

I am now back at home in the United States and am reconnecting with family and friends. I am struggling with re-entry boredom and miss much about life in Europe. However, there are also aspects of life in the United States that I cherish.

The overall feeling, though, is one of gratitude. The life-changing experience of living overseas and taking time for extended travel will remain with me always.

Stay tuned, and thank you for joining me on the journey!

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