This past weekend I earned my first, second and third Capoeira cordas (the colored belts, as in any other martial art.)
Capoeira is a Brazilian martial art that developed in the slave camps as a way to train to fight for freedom, while disguising it as dancing and singing. Learning capoeira requires learning to play the instruments, sing the songs, hold the "axe" (energy) and obviously play in the center of the circle. In capoeira, it's called playing; not sparring or fighting.
If you've never seen capoeira, here's a video of our event. These are the masters and advanced capoeiristas playing.
I have been playing capoeira for the past 4+ years. But I took a long hiatus in 2013. I allowed myself to drift away because I had a lot going on in my life.
Then in the early spring of 2014 I attended my group's first "batizado" (ceremony where students move up and get their cordas). I went to support them. As I sat there seeing all of my friends get their cordas I realized I had excluded myself. I had pulled myself out of the group. I was sad to not be a part of the ceremony and be one of them.
I recommitted to capoeira and have been more consistent than before. It's been two years now, and I have to confess that at times I found myself wavering in my commitment. More than once, I felt inclined to stop again but I'd make myself go and would unfailingly love being in class.
Then we began planning for our batizado. I had a concrete goal to not miss this one again. So I stayed.
This weekend, I expected to get my first and second level cordas. New students wear white belts. The first level is half white, half yellow. The second level is all yellow. The third level is half yellow, half orange.
After I got my first and second corda, I heard Fua (my teacher) start speaking of someone who's practiced for a while and who brings SO much axe (positive energy) that he decided to break his rule (of allowing only a 2-level jump at once) and award the third level corda to this person. And he called me!
I almost started crying.
In that moment my commitment to capoeira multiplied tenfold. I am so proud of the achievement and honored by the recognition, that I want to live up to it and keep improving.
Then it hit me, stopping to mark and celebrate improvements is monumental to our ultimate success.
Celebrating gains is enormously powerful to refuel our commitment to continue moving towards our dreams and goals.
All too often we quit midway because we're nowhere near where we would like to be. I quit capoeira once and almost quit again. I can certainly think of other projects on which I've lost steam part-way because I can't see any evidence of progress.
What projects or dreams have you abandoned after you had started to move towards them?
My takeaway from this is to remind myself to do more of what I often tell my clients to do, but I don't do enough for myself:
CELEBRATE THE BABY STEP SUCCESSES ON A REGULAR BASIS.
This can be as simple as writing 1-2 daily accomplishments on a notebook. Or maybe once a week have a mini celebration of the week's successes. Perhaps making Friday night the week's celebration of what we've accomplished, and allow ourselves to celebrate even the tiniest of gains:
I went to capoeira this week. I went to the gym 3 times.
I drank more water each day.
I had that important conversation I needed to have.
I researched that new job opportunity...
The more we celebrate the little accomplishments and see them as the important, essential steps that will bring us to our goals, the more our excitement and momentum will build.