Reverse Bucket List — 50 Years of Reflection & Gratitude

Do you have a bucket list of all the things you’d love to try, do, or experience? Maybe consider a reverse bucket list. Reflecting upon your life—remembering all of the things you have accomplished, honoring special memories, and recalling life lessons learned along the way. We are not guaranteed tomorrow, so here is my reverse bucket list of reflection and gratitude for my 50th birthday. May this be a sweet memoir of fun facts and treasured memories for my precious family and dear friends. #loveserveinspire #50thbirthday

  1. Became a Yuman! Born in Yuma, Arizona on October 2, 1970. I’m Heather Taylor Wiest, and I am a miracle. A testament of God’s unrelenting love and grace, a chosen instrument (Jeremiah 1:15). I am the youngest of five biological siblings, and the only one to live past infancy. Every breath of life has a purpose. Read more in The Door Knocker.
  2. Heart of Exploration —1970’s — I learned my love of exploring from my Dad as we hiked the arroyos and canyons of Arizona when I was a little girl, as well as traveling through the Ozarks of Arkansas visiting my paternal grandparents’ 200 acre farm during summer and winter vacations.
  3. Love of Flying —1974 & 1978 — Flew across the pond with my Mom to visit family in England and the Highlands of Scotland, her native country. Ask me about our emergency landing at London Heathrow Airport without landing gear! Fearlessly, I still love to fly and travel.
  4. Physical Healing —1976 — Developed Tuberculosis and completely recovered a year later. Thank you, God, for early detection, modern medicine, and healing.
  5. Spiritual Salvation — I asked Jesus into my heart July 9, 1978 (age 7) during a children’s Sunday School class in Mansfield, Arkansas. I was visiting my paternal grandparents during the summer while my parents were going through a divorce. I am forever grateful for my grandparents’ prayers and influence on my life. Read more in Making A Difference—The Power of One about the influence of my late paternal grandfather, Samuel M. Taylor.
  6. The Bunk Window —1978-1980 — My pet cat, Lady, was my best friend as life became chaotically transient with my Mom and step-dad. We moved every few months throughout Arizona, living in a 30-foot travel trailer, and I even spent time in a Child Protective Services shelter. I remember often crying as I gazed out my small bunk window, praying to God, as Lady purred to comfort me. God was faithful to answer my prayers over time. I am grateful for so many cleansing and healing tears over the years. “You’ve kept track of all my wandering and my weeping. You’ve stored my many tears in your bottle—not one will be lost. For they are all recorded in your book of remembrance.” Psalm 56:8 TPT
  7. Culture Shock —1980-1982 — Living in Nogales and Yuma, Arizona with my Dad and blended family. I’m grateful for this time of bonding with my step-family, learning Spanish, and being immersed into the Hispanic community and culture. Reflecting back, childhood depression continued to present itself due to all the traumatic events I had experienced.
  8. Many Firsts — Jr. High 1982-1984 — I found a bit of stability as I moved to Phoenix, Arizona in 1982 with my Mom and step-dad. I met my first best friend, Jenny, became involved in school (pom line), and fell in love for the first time—thank you, Jody, for being such a great neighbor and boyfriend—sharing all of life’s highs and lows with me.
  9. Rededication — During junior high, I began attending church with my best friend and her family, rededicating my life to the Lord. Thank you, Jenny, for caring so deeply, and loving quirky me! I began reading the Bible and learned more about Jesus, His Love for me, His character, and the power of the Holy Spirit within me. I was transforming from the inside out! The Bible still is the tender voice of God to my soul.
  10. The Door Knocker — At the age of 15, with the support of my Dad and dear friends, I left home and began life as an independent teen. Tough love encouraged me to establish safer boundaries. I cautiously tapped another door knocker—one of release, hope, and opportunity (Matthew 7:7).
  11. Some of the BEST years! — High School 1984-1988 — One of the best seasons of my life, filled with JOY moments! I lived with two amazing families, the Rundio’s and Rehfeldt’s, as an independent teen. I loved being a part of marching band/color guard, dated Charlie for three fun, healing years—all the laughter, tears, long talks, dreams, day trips, dates, dances, proms, and wonderful lifelong friendships—thank you, Chaz. I also held jobs at a medical office and at Sunrise Preschool to save money for a car.
  12. Top 1% — During my senior year at Greenway High School, I placed in the top 1% of my class. I remember working so hard for this. With the help of my guidance counselor and mentor, Mr. Sheets, I was awarded a full tuition scholarship to Grand Canyon University (Grand Canyon College at the time). Fun fact: During my last month of high school I contracted mononucleosis, strep throat, and chickenpox all at the same time! I had to take my finals at home, and graduate with chickenpox marks all over me. A lesson learned in the importance of getting rest and keeping your immune system strong.
  13. Lopes Up! — GCU 1988-1992 — So many amazing memories of living on-campus in the apartments with dear friends and roommates, buying my first car (1981 green Honda Accord), began dating Jon in 1989, and working for Washington Elementary School District, as well as for a group home for sexually abused children and teens.
  14. Baptized May 19, 1991 (20 years old) at Calvary Community Church in Phoenix, Arizona. A public declaration of faith in my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
  15. Continental Singers Tour — Summer 1991— I traveled the U.S. and throughout France, Belgium, Holland, Switzerland, and Germany as a light technician for the Continental Singers. Three months of unique experiences, memories, and growth as a 20 year old. Diana, thank you for being by my side, and getting lost with me in Paris!
  16. Washington High School — After graduating GCU in 1992, I landed an epic job as a high school Social Worker. I worked for Glendale Union High School District for 11 school years. I treasure this season of my life so much, and still stay in contact with many previous students, families, and staff. I’m beyond grateful that every experience I personally went through as a child and teen helped me effectively relate to and counsel clients.
  17. Marriage Proposals — I was proposed to twice—ask Jon! May 1992 on a beach in California, and December 1992 in snowy Munds Park, Arizona — and I said “YES!”
  18. Just Married! — Joyfully married my forever love, Jon Wiest, on July 9, 1993 at Calvary Community Church in Phoenix, Arizona. I just recently realized this was 15 years to the date after I was saved…see #5. I love this God blessing! We honeymooned for a week traveling up the Pacific Coast Highway…ahhh…a little bit of heaven on earth.
  19. First Home — Purchased and moved into our first home in Glendale, Arizona in January 1994.
  20. Summer Vacation 1995 Tour — Traveled with Jon’s band, Michelangelo & The Difference, across the U.S., and then Jon & I flew to London and drove throughout England and Scotland to visit family and site see. What a blessing to see my Grannie (maternal grandmother) one last time before she passed.
  21. Rock Bottom — On my bed one evening in March 1997, crying alone before God in my dark wilderness (disordered eating behaviors for almost 17 years), I experienced the most frightening chest pain. Was I having a heart attack? What this the end? 911? I entreated the Lord for grace and audibly heard these words OUT OF NOWHERE: “Be anxious for nothing. My peace, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus. Find Me wholeheartedly.” Immediately a beautiful light, a glowing embrace, tenderly dissipated the gripping pain. In awe, I rested. Read more in The Illusion of Control.
  22. Master’s in Social Work 1997— Earned my MSW Degree from Arizona State University after four long years of part-time study, 60 credit hours, and two 500-hour internships.
  23. Licensed Clinical Social Worker 2000 —I will never let this license lapse after 3200 clinical supervision hours (thank you, Jackie), plus ongoing continuing education and license fees!
  24. Havasupai Falls 2000 — I hiked and camped in glorious Havasupai Falls, Arizona with a group of Washington High School students. What an amazing experience being in this beautiful area of God’s creation! Pictures do not do it justice.
  25. Victoria B.C. 2000 — Jon and I enjoyed a fun, relaxing vacation in Western Canada.
  26. Savasana Shifts — In 2001, at 30 years old, I stepped into my first yoga class at a local gym. I was faithful at working out to stay in shape, and to relieve stress from my social work career, but something about the dim lit yoga room drew me. It was love at first savasana!
  27. Became a Momma! — Madeline Ayr arrived December 4, 2002 and Mackenzie Skye later came April 21, 2005. Notice the reverse sister birth dates…12-4 and 4-21…this is too cool!
  28. Moved into our current home — January 2006 — So many cherished memories here.
  29. Mom Life Loves — MOPS (Mother’s of Preschoolers), MIP (Mom’s In Prayer), Women’s Bible Studies, school volunteering, playdates, and field trips. Amazing support networks! Thank you, sweet Auburn, for continuing to pray with me for our children weekly.
  30. Two of the TOUGHEST years 2007-2008 — My step-dad, George, went from independent living to dying, and our daughters had 4 combined major surgeries. Read more about my relationship with George in Answer the Call and Veteran’s Day 2007. Forgiveness set me free from resentment and bitterness. All the trauma, hurt, and challenges were worth it. 30 years of my life invested in his life mattered.
  31. 15th Wedding Anniversary in Maui, Hawaii 2008 — Our first big trip without the kids!
  32. Another TOUGH year 2009 — Jon’s grandmother and father passed away within six weeks of each other. We learned that an extended family vacation to Florida with grieving loved ones was not the best idea. I learned more about “giving space” and letting loved ones heal in their own way and time. This year reinforced, once again, to never take life for granted.
  33. Our Favorite Family Vacation EVER! — 2011 Kauai, Hawaii — Snorkeling in sunny Poipu, kayaking Wailua River to Secret Falls, and hiking the scenic Napali Coast. Witnessing our children having the time of their lives in nature. Priceless.
  34. Life Changing Moments —Yoga Teacher Trainings and Healing Arts Journey began in 2012.
  35. Epic 20th Wedding Anniversary Trip! — 2013 — Two weeks exploring New York City, London, Paris, and Rome. Created a life time of sweet memories with my forever love (and yoga photos!)
  36. Created a website — 2015 —Started Love Serve Inspire website and blog. I began sharing my life story via writing. Share Your Shift.
  37. Crete R.E.T.R.E.A.T. — May 2016 — Completed my 500 Hour Yoga Teacher Training in stunning Crete, Greece! Once a year go someplace you’ve never been before.
  38. Boundless In Bulgaria — August 2016 — Filmed in yoga class videos with Udaya Entertainment and participated in the Udaya Live Yoga and Music Festival at a beautiful ski resort area of Bulgaria. I am boundless. I am indeed firmly grounded, yet free!
  39. Answer The Call — 2016 — Became a published contributing author.
  40. Present Moment R.E.T.R.E.A.T. — April 2017 — Collaborated with my dear friend, Hanan, to create amazing yoga retreat experiences. Reconnect. Explore. Tune In. Relax. Engage. Appreciate. Take Away. Our first yoga retreat was in Troncones, Mexico.
  41. Another Amazing Family Vacation! — July 2017 — One tremendous week of site seeing in New York City. We even watched Fourth of July fireworks in a boat on the Hudson River!
  42. EXPANSION — My word for 2018 — Our family traveled together to Columbia for a Mission Trip with Compassion International. Read more in Capturing Columbia.
  43. It’s All About The Little Things — Belize August 2018 — Life is about the unexpected details, those present moments, the little things that often become the big things.
  44. I Love You, Mom — May 2, 2018 — The night after my Mom, Joyce, suddenly passed, her overwhelming presence energetically blanketed me with love. She gently stroked my hair and whispered, “All is well. I’m with Jesus.” Oh, how I thank God for this sweet assurance. Amazing grace runs deep. Read more in Joyce Moments.
  45. 25 Drops Of Glue For Sticking Together in Marriage — July 9, 2018 — Jon and I celebrated our Silver Anniversary in stunning Sedona, Arizona. How do we continue to live happily ever after? Some great tips in the blog! We are blessed to be SYMBIS Assessment Facilitators and Marriage Mentors. Find ways to invest in others.
  46. Snorkeling in Belize — May 2, 2019, on my Mom’s one year death anniversary. I knew she would be proud of me. She always said, “You are so brave, Heather!”
  47. Santa Fe with Papa — September 2019 — We drove Gil, my mom’s third husband, to visit his family for the last time before he passed away November 4, 2019. We are grateful for God’s timing in all things.
  48. Fierce Faith France Yoga Retreat — September 2019 — This vacation was extra-special as my niece, Brittanie, joined me in exploring Paris and Southern France. A trip of a lifetime!
  49. Created Love Serve Inspire YouTube Channel — March 26, 2020 — Read more in How Quarantine Stretched Me.
  50. Embrace Change — the only constant. I’ve learned to allow, and give space for change. I am wiser from mistakes made in relationships, and grateful for the opportunities to seek and extend forgiveness. I’ve accepted friendships that were ready to end, and I’m open to those just beginning or rekindling. I am not the same person I was 20 years ago—or even 5 years ago. I intend to keep moving forward by God’s grace and divine guidance. “Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.” Philippians 3:13-14 MSG

What will my next 50 years be like? God only knows, but I’m going to totally enjoy today and all the present moments made. Cherish yesterday. Dream tomorrow. Live today. Thank you, God, for the miracle of life!

No One Ever Cared for Me Like Jesus by Steffany Gretzinger

No one ever cared for me like Jesus
His faithful hand has held me all this way
And when I'm old and grey
And all my days are numbered on the earth
Let it be known in you alone
My joy was found
Oh my joy, my joy

Let my children tell their children
Let this be their memory
That all my treasure was in heaven
And you were everything to me