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Walking On A Tightrope (6/28/13)

BY JAZMINE FENLATOR

Self portrait photo that will be in the coffee table book I want to
publish, which is part of my bucket list. Theme is life's simple pleasures.

Who hasn’t seen the movie “The Bucket List” with Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman?! (That’s meant to be rhetorical and sarcastic.) But if you haven’t, a quick debrief: it’s a realistic comedy of two older men who lived life on the opposite sides of the track; they randomly meet in a hospital room because of health complications diagnosing them both to be terminally ill. They reminisce on the lives they lived and the toll it took in the game of life for both of them … things they wished they could have done and still want to do as well.

This story has two opposite men brought together by the common factor of health deterioration and goes through a comedic strain of events where they get to know each other as well as teach one another things through their different perspectives and experiences in life. Long story short they both realize that they haven’t been living the life they wanted for themselves; somewhere along the way they got lost, complacent, unappreciative and, well, simply let life pass them by, you could say. So they start to make a bucket list of things they want to do before their ultimate time is up and grow a true, genuine friendship throughout the process. If you haven’t seen it, I highly encourage you to Hulu, Netflix, Redbox, download or borrow it.

That being said, since I was younger I have kept a book where I write down things I want to accomplish in my lifetime. It has grown over the years as I continuously add to it. On my bucket list I even put, “complete my bucket list.” It seems a bit juvenile, but from one of my previous blogs, I’ll repeat it again: life is a rollercoaster journey, I want to take advantage of EVERY waking MOMENT and LIVE IT to the FULLEST, and at the end of it have someone be inspired and motivated by my story. In order to do that though, there is a fine line in balance and “walking the tightrope” of life.


Refurbishing an old cabinet to replace the furniture that was lost in
Hurricane Irene at my home in New Jersey

Nail polish play date with Cayla and her friend Nora -- they
requested a funny face photo opp

I have a HUGE bucket list, not necessarily that there are so many items on it to check off but some of the things just don’t happen quickly – they take time, investment and prioritization. I plan on completing every last item on that list. It includes an array of things from specific places I would like to travel to, athletic goals to accomplish, educational degrees to complete, things to own/earn, things to create, making a coffee table book of life’s simple pleasures that I photograph while traveling the world, and even things that are intangible such as mentoring a young child.

There have been a few I have already check off the list, such as getting a master’s degree (August 2012 – graduated from California University of PA with a Master of Exercise and Sciences), and currently I am working on completing my MBA in marketing from DeVry University and Keller Graduate School of Management. This is a great program linked with the USOC to help Team USA athletes with tuition assistance as they train and compete in order to also continue their education.

Let’s see – I got a drastic change in a hair style (October 2011 – went from long curly locks to a very, very, very short curly fro) and I have had the privilege of being part of a little girl’s life, Cayla Teig, helping to be a good role model and female influence on her perspective of the world as she grows up.

Right now, and for the major course of my lifetime, I have been working on being an Olympian and bringing home an Olympic medal for Team USA. Like I said, some bucket list items take time, dedication and lots of investment. That doesn’t mean that everything in my life has to be on hold during the duration of this journey. I prioritize being a women’s bobsled pilot for Team USA, and make sure that as I train and work towards my Olympic goals all my energies are in the best interest for maximized success. But… this also means I need to be realistic and smart as I walk the “tightrope of life.” It takes balance and positive distractions in other venues to make a person whole and fulfill those other voids. Life throws you curve balls, adversity, forced adaption and unpredictable circumstances. Having fun with friends, expanding my education, taking photos and adding them to my portfolio for when I publish my book, speaking to young adults on overcoming adversity, going out for ice cream (even when I can’t eat it) with one of my biggest fans in Lake Placid, and being a positive role model for her are all things that I do during the nooks and crannies of time between bobsled. It’s what makes me, well… ME … as well as continues to help build me to be the complete person I want to be.


Cliff jumping at The Flume in Lake Placid, N.Y., Summer 2012

My point is that don’t just label and define yourself in one thing; don’t have tunnel vision because you’re so focused on this ONE goal or thing that you forget all the other amazing things life has to offer. Make a list of things whether they are materialistic, career-oriented, social/family-related, or personal improvements. Prioritize your bucket list and get cracking on being the best person you can be full circle.

As you walk on your tightrope, remember that it’s not just focus and determination that gets you across the way, but also joyfulness, jumping on risk/opportunities and balance with all of life’s simple pleasures. Wake up and smell the roses sometimes, take a detour, do something spontaneous, share your story and experiences with others and start to cross off those woulda-coulda-shoulda thoughts you thought you locked away and left behind. The best tightrope artists don’t look down at every step they are taking, but look up, out and forward, engaging with their surroundings. Have outlets that are all a part of you and keep you balanced!

By the way… Not that I’m biased or anything, but I recommend a bobsled experience passenger ride be one of the first things added to your bucket list :-)   Park City, Utah or Lake Placid, N.Y. both respectively have available opportunities to have the thrill of the coolest sport on ice. You can get more information at USBSF.com.