Hey all, welcome backwild and I need to get some thoughts down before I go wild.
Okay, I have been thinking a lot about adventures and bucket lists the last while. Bucket lists are a big part of the millennial world and of today's world in general. There is a lot of #bucketlist things going on and so many trying to one up their friends with their #Bucketlist. I am not saying bucket lists are bad, I think they are good for the human soul, we all need the thrills of experiences and adventures. It is part of our Devine inheritance to want to discover new things and new adventures. But.... (there is always a but) What if there was more that the bucket lists of super cool things I have wanted to do like cage dive with great whites or hike the Grand Canyon (both on my own personal list). What if there was a whole list of things I never knew I needed...
Allow me to explain further...
I have also been doing a lot of reflecting because, well, reflecting is one of my favorites. So recently I have been reflecting on how fun those adventure bucket lists are. But what about the bucket list we never knew we needed? It is an interesting thought, right? How often do we sit back and list the items we have done that we knew we needed? That is the bucket list, in my mind, that God has for us. These are the experience and adventures I never even knew I needed, they are the adventures I look back on with extra joy and gratitude as I see why those items were accomplished. These aren't always the easiest and most fun, but they are the most necessary. I want to share with you all some of my never knew bucket list and I encourage all to take a minute and do this exercise to see what your never knew bucket list is and see the adventures you never really realized. You might be surprised at what all you have thus far accomplished... Cherish those experiences...
-Losing friends, gaining angels...
A lot of these aren't necessarily joy filled but they things that have made me who I am. The first that came to me was losing friends and gaining angels. Death is not at all an easy part of this life, but it is a necessary part of the plan. We will all lose friends to different tragic events, but when we lose a friend on this side, it is important to remember we gain an angel on the other side. I am grateful for the friends I've loved along the way, and those who have left this mortal existence. It is through these painful moments of death that I have found new life and found my testimony that life does go on. I remember a few tender moments through my life where I have felt these friends become my angels from the other side and I cannot wait for the day I get to hug them and hold them again. I mentioned, these items are not always easy, but they will be worth it.
Not long ago as my family prepared to attend another funeral, I had a friend ask me if I was tired of attending funerals yet...? My answer in my mind was a saddened of course I am... But the answer that came from my lips was a little different. The answer can be found in a conversation between my brother and I a while back about how we had lost count of the number of funerals we have been to. We both sat in quiet sadness, then discussed our gratitude in being touched by so many profound lives. As I write this, tears fill my eyes as I think of the list of names in my scriptures of those who have left his mortal life. Tears of sadness and missing, but tears of pure gratitude in having so many people cross my path. Just like my list item above, each of these precious souls have become yet another fighting angel on the other side. With every passing comes a new friend on the other side and an even stronger testimony that I will see them all again.
This one doesn't sound so happy either and it certainly was not during the times, but these moments have taught more about how I can be a better friend and how to forgive. Years ago, I lost one of my best friends from childhood, to this day I have no idea what really happened between us. At first, I was angry because of all we shared together and I was hurt because I didn't even know why this was happening. Soon, after prayers and time with my Heavenly Father I came to an even greater place of love for this person and a forgiveness I cannot truly explain. I love this person more than I did before, and where I still don't know what I did wrong. I feel these types of experiences have made me a better friend as I have had to reflect on my own part in relationships. I am not perfect, but I want to always improve my ability to be a friend.
-Being a visa waiter
Okay, so we have all heard the annoying recount of Michayla's visa waiting experience, but it was fundamental in more ways than I have even begun to discover. For those who are new in my world, I was called to be a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in 2013... I was called to serve in Fortaleza, Brazil. I ended up on a wild visa waiting adventure. Sister missionaries serve for eighteen months. I ended up getting temporarily resigned to the Washington DC South, mission. I spent fourteen months there and then the remainder four months in Fortaleza. Can I say first off that a mission was not on my bucket list in the first place. It was always a back of the mind thought but never on my Michayla bucket list, for sure on that Heavenly Father, I never knew I needed bucket list. Then there was the visa waiting, I could spend an entire book on the lessons from that experience. Here it is in a nutshell, that was EXACTLY what I needed to go through. Looking back, I can see the exact reason for why I left DC when I did and why I spent the short time I needed to in Brazil. This one is one of my never knew I needed bucket list items, but man has it been a game changer for this lil Colorado Cowgirl.
-The big ones don't stop
November 4, 2012... Michayla was driving to her educator shift at SeaWorld... She was about 5 miles from home and stopped at a stop light, when... BAM... A big red semi came at her coming 60. Lucky for us friends, Michayla drives a very special Toyota Tundra named John Wayne whose bed took the brunt of the blow. What did this day teach our little adventurer? No one is immortal. There are lots of life flashing moments, so you better be ready at any time. This time period taught me a lot about having to be a big kid far away from home too. I was getting ready to move home to Colorado to serve a mission and I had to deal with all of this. It taught me I can handle more than I think I can, and that the Lord will but just the right people in your path to help you out, all the way from best friends to great home and visiting teachers, oh and really great trucks too!
-Losing a job
Anyone who has ever lost a job knows it is not an enjoyable experience. I had never been cut from a job until recently. It was harder than I wanted to admit out-loud, in a lot of ways that job and its loss really set me back more than I care to admit beyond my writing, but it did. This job was a job that helped me find a calling and love that I didn't really realize I possessed. This job helped me find new ways of dealing with people and discovering a new gift and passion. This is another looking back lesson. As I look back on this job I can see how it is a blessing from God that I was let go. The coworker experience was in some ways toxic and I was not able to really reach my potential. The work was amazing, but the leadership aspect was crippling. It was amazing that I worked for two years as basically a button pusher at Disney and felt like a real part of the team and then in this possession where the work was so much more, I felt like absolutely nothing. This experience showed me a gift I needed to understand in myself. It showed me how to be a better leader and make those under you feel the worth they deserve, and once again, it showed me that Heavenly Father is aware of those who trust him. I thought it was the end of the world when I walked from that building, but really it was another important piece of the list I never knew I needed.
Many know my love for Disney and my joy in having the opportunity to work down in Orlando. What many do not know is that the first time I applied I was denied. That one threw me for a loop. I had just graduated high school and had a semester of nursing classes under my belt at Red Rocks. My next plan for life was to go off to a quick internship at Disney, and then come home after the four months to finish my degree... What was I to do? I couldn't re-apply for six more months. I remember running to the steer pen and crying to the cattle and God at the confusion of the plan. Well, in the loving way Heavenly Father does, he had yet another door right there waiting for me. I figured I better do more school while I waited. With heavy heart I signed up for more nursing classes... At this time my silly mamma brought up the thought of me trying something in teaching. I laughed as I had already made up my mind to be a nurse. However, I did sign up for an intro to education class (with a conjoining internship). At first, I was all like, whatever, moms don't know anything. All you who are giving a little chuckle know where this one goes. After a semester of my favorite class ever and an incredible assistant teaching experience with one of my favorite women in Kindergarten, I changed my major to education. I probably wouldn't have taken that path if not for that denied application and a really wise Heavenly Father and mamma!
-A loss of humor
Are you bored yet? Well, too bad, this is my head you are in folks. Here we go, Junior year of High School, state speech meet. I was a favorite to win state in humorous interp. I went through my rounds with confidence that I had it made. Three rounds of hard competition later, and finals is posted... I didn't even make it to finals... I was a devastated teenager, what do they do? They cry folks. I ran and hid and cried. After a couple chats with mom and others a favorite coach approached me. I had known and respected this great mentor for many years. He asked me to take a walk with him. I wish I had written down everything he had shared, but I was a dumb teenager. What I do remember is that he told me it is okay to cry for a bit and it is okay to be disappointed, but that I cannot do that for long. He told me I had a great talent within this world and that I was the sorta girl that needed to basically "get back on the horse." He told me I was not one to give up. Inside I wanted to, I wanted to just go home, but he reminded me I had another event the next day. After a hug and an ending talk of encouragement I went into the next day sad but holding to this mentor's powerful words. I needed up winning state in Creative Story Telling. I will never forget that teacher and his wisdom to this young teen to not give up but to keep fighting. I will never forget his love that he shared and the lesson to "get back in the saddle."
We all hate broken hearts, but we learn to love them, whether we realize it or not. I am grateful for every broken heart I have ever received because each has taught me something new and has caused me to move closer to my loving Father in Heaven. These broken hearts taught me how to forgive and maintain my most cherished friendships. They taught me what I do and don't want in my future forever. They taught me more about myself and how I need to be better, but also that I am one heck of a catch. I have seen how each one has made me stronger of a person! God asks a broken heart and contrite spirit. I am proud of my broken heart and look forward to giving more pieces and receiving more in return.
-Pushing buttons for bread
I talked a lot about working at Disney. Well, it changed me guys, what can I say, dreams do come true. When I first went to Disney I was an intern at Small World and Peter Pan. Yes, I was a theme park button pusher, but at Disney you feel a part of something so much bigger. That friends are a gift that is being lost in our world. "There are no small parts, only small actors." Well guess what? That applies to job too! I am so grateful for the "meaningless" jobs that have taught me to true meaning of the importance of every single position. And PS Small World is still my favorite ride in the entire world!!
-No Sunday times
If you know anything about Mormons, you know they love Sunday! There was time that I didn't take Sunday blessings so seriously. Once again, we go back to the beginning of my Disney internship. I worked a lot of hours at Disney. For the four months of that internship I think I went to church maybe twice... I didn't feel confident in my attending a singles ward, I didn't feel I fit in (my fault, I never went), I didn't think I needed that time. I read my scriptures every day, I prayed, I listened to talks... BUT as those months continued I found myself more tired, and emptier in a way. I loved my internship and the people around me but there was a lil something missing.... to be continued...
-A child shall lead them
Here is the continuation (I know the suspense almost killed you). As I moved into a new location and settled to stay in Florida I knew I needed to get back into the swing of things and fill that empty part. At the time I didn't know what was missed (I do now). I went to the Citrus Ridge Family Ward. I was engulfed by a family I never really expected and placed in a calling to teach a class of about twelve four-year olds... With that calling came a responsibility to be at church every Sunday. Guys, I found what was missing. I needed that moment of Sacrament each week, I needed that family, and I needed those kids. I now see why we are commanded to take the sacrament at church every week, I see so clearly why the Lord commands us to keep that sacred day holy. I cannot afford to ever let that happen ever again. I need that filling. Another thing on the list that I never knew I needed.
-No party invites
Okay, I am almost done (you guys should see my full list... this is nothing). Once upon a time there was a super shy homeschooled Michayla that struggled in high school. She was not invited to many parties, she didn't go on many dates, she was awkward and shy (yes, I was once painfully shy). In my dramatic teen years, I thought it was everyone else fault, guess what? It wasn't, I got invited to what I needed to be invited to. I needed to learn to reach out I needed to learn to invite for myself. I needed to find my own confidence not based on the acceptance of others. Yes, we do need to invite others and we do need to always work to reach out, BUT we have to be accepting too. How many times do we get invited to things and then turn them away and later blame everyone else for our loneliness. Think on it, I had to, and it made all the difference. It wasn't easy to step out, but none of these things have been easy... That is the point of this never knew I needed bucket list, isn't is great?
-Holding the dying critters
Okay, this one is sad too. Many of you know my love for the ranch life and for the critters that feed us and love us. I am grateful for every calf I have raised, every hog I have held, and every critter that has passed through my care. I am humbled the Lord allows us to be stewards of these critters and of this beautiful planet. I have received a lot of criticism over the years for "eating my pets." That simply is not how it is folks. These critters have taught me more about God, life, and stewardship than any class or lecture ever has or ever will. A couple weeks the power of this stewardship was refreshed on my mind as I held a calf as he died in my arms. I was overwhelmed in that moment of sadness by a love from my Heavenly Father for being a wise steward. These animals have not been easy, but they have been at the top of my bucket list I never knew I needed. When I started raising these animals so long ago I never fully knew how much they would make me who I am, for them I am grateful.
Alright, I am done for now, those are just a small handful of examples I felt impressed to share. I re-instate my invitation for you all to do this practice and see how God's Bucket List has truly been the Bucket list you never knew you needed! Have a good night all and know how loved you are!