How to Stay Sane and Healthy at a Big Capoeira Event

  • Earplugs (foam or silicone)! Rodas and percussion classes are insanely noisy and can be stressful after a while, even if you don’t notice the effect for a long time, and keeping part of the loudness away can reduce the overall stress level by a lot! I even wore them during a few of the classes towards the end of the workshop this year, and it helped me to focus on the movements despite being tired and recovering from a headache. Also, think of your kids. I felt sorry for some of the toddlers being carried close to a roda with a bateria that was so load that even with earplugs I thought it was too loud. I might be more sensitive than the average adult, but kids have very, very sensitive ears. Protect them or at least limit their time next to the noise. (Earplugs are good for the workshop party and public transport, too.)
  • Pack/plan your meals in advance. This year I packed almost identical lunchboxes for all days, but you can do as you please concerning variety. Use foods you know you can eat without feeling full or sick during training (e.g. I know I have to avoid dairy and meat before intense trainings). I packed salted nuts, dried banana chips, fresh bananas, hardboiled eggs, cereal bars, muffins, dark chocolate, and some gummy candy (great to chew on when things get stressful or your blood level crushes). In addition I had smoothies for the morning with me – plan carefully which foods have to be consumed before they are out in the warm gym hall for too long!
  • Take some time off around the event, if possible. This year I used vacation time for the first day of the event (even though it only started in the evening) and for today, which is the day after four days of capoeira madness. Best decision ever. Use the time to buy favourite workshop food, take a nap, stretch, look at the photos and others you took, put your feet up …
  • Be aware of your needs. Go outside when you need fresh air or some quiet, take a nap on a mat, hug your friends, say no to tasks you can’t perform without your stress level skyrocketing. Sleep in. Leave early if you don’t feel well or need some people-free time. Skip a class to practise on your own.
  • If you want or have to help with the event, look for tasks that suit you. I prefer documenting the event with my camera, collecting dirty mugs and dry bottles, and helping with some small things when I have time over tasks that involve a lot of people stuff like check-in. If you like to drive a car, you can pick up people and do grocery shopping, if you like caring for people you can prepare breakfast, if you are strong or have energy left over after the event you can carry around heavy stuff or clean  … find your niche. This year I wanted to help with the final cleanup, but I was so exhausted I would not have been of any use, so I excused myself and started going through my pictures, which was accepted by the others far better than expected.
  • Bring a small towel or washcloth to refresh your face or whatever body parts feel sticky and annoying in the middle of the day. Cold water clears the head, too.
  • General advise: Have a backup plan to be more relaxed. If you know you might need medication or whatever kind of help in some situations, let one or two people know. If you e.g. can’t stand being touched by semi-strangers when upset or being overwhelmed by all the noise and chaos of dozens of moving humans, find a few trustworthy friends or teachers who will be able to recognize and handle such a situation and maybe feed you chocolate or take you out for a walk. Identify your needs in advance, communicate, feel safe.
  • Bring your favourite flip-flops or whatever kind of comfortable slip-on footwear your prefer. Some spaces might be dirty or have a cold floor, or you might want to run out for a moment without looking for your socks and putting your sweaty feet into shoes. Bring a comfortable jacket or your favourite cozy hoodie to avoid cooling out between classes or when a mestre loves talking a lot before actually getting to work. Also great as a makeshift pillow or a mini-blanket to hide beneath.
  • Drink lots of water or other healthy beverages. Pro tip: Use the bathroom during class, training rodas, or presentations to avoid queues.
  • Let go of the idea of taking part in each and every class and event. This was so hard for me the first two years, but now I’m more relaxed about this. Let go of the idea that the schedule is fixed – this I learned the hard way this year. So. Much. Craziness. (If you want to know – they delayed the troca de cordas by two days while in the meantime our instructor and his friend got their more or less spontaneous formatura and were made a full mestres! This of course ended in about three additional hours of games, speeches, and samba de roda and a frevo circle.)
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big ouch, or: shin meets head

Today was the first time I got hit in the head since school and P.E. (I got my driver’s license a few days after taking a blow to my brow and while I was still supposed to stay at home because of my mild concussion. And I had to celebrate my 18th birthday with a black eye. Never played basketball against huge people again after that.)

We were still warming up for capoeira class – at least I believe it was part of warming up – and were told to do foreward rolls (after which I was feeling really dizzy already) and then backward rolls. After a few of the latter I was so dizzy I didn’t move for a moment, and the girl behind me didn’t see me and her shin crashed down on my face. Ouch. Despite the fact that I couldn’t practise a lot today because of the resulting pain, dizziness, and bouts of nausea whenever I tried turning around too fast I’m still very lucky – a little more to the side, and I’d be sitting in some emergency room with a broken nose right now. And as the force of the blow was evenly distributed on my upper jaw and my temple I neither lost a tooth (just a little blood from the gums) nor suffered a really bad concussion.

I should have quit the training session right there and then, but I kept trying to do a little bit of everything. Not a good idea, I have to admit now. Stupid me. Should have listened to my friend and not to the instructors. My head is hurting, the world still moves a little more than it should, and I’m a tiny bit nauseous. but after a good night’s sleep it should be okay.

So now I’m at home in bed with what I still (want to) believe is only a very mild concussion and hope I’ll be back on track in time for capoeira class on Monday.

So a bit of advise I can give now: Don’t ever take a blow to the head lightly. You might feel fine after a moment when the first pain is gone, but if you push yourself you might pay for it later. Yeah, and don’t play sports while feeling so dizzy you aren’t totally in control and not aware of what’s happening behind you.

I hate being weak, but sometimes pushing myself too hard just isn’t worth the consequences. At least I didn’t cry (I used to be such a crybaby).

Update: … nope, I wasn’t totally back on track on track on Monday, and not even on Wednesday. I kept trying, but I felt even more dizzy than usually; and on both days we practised a lot of spinning movements >.< I felt like being back in my first year, unable to get the kicks right without falling over …

caring, repairing, replacing

Springtime. Sunshine, and time to get things fixed.

Last week I brought my bicycle to the repair shop nearby because I was too lazy to find and put on a new headlight, and I didn’t feel confident about tightening the chain myself (gear hub and badly rusted screws … I used to know how to put the gear hub of my old bike back on, but always did the repairs together with my dad). Today I could take it home, and a few minutes ago I got a call that my camera is good to go already as well – I took it to a shop for a sensor cleaning only yesterday!

It’s the first time I’m spending a lot of money on things I already own, but it makes me happy that there are possibilities to care for things so they will last, instead of just wearing them out and then throwing them away. The bike I use is really my mother’s (we swapped our bikes some years ago, because the frame of my old one didn’t fit my proportions – my legs are a little shorter than hers, I guess), and I bought the DSLR from a person I know. So both items are not new, both have their flaws and limits, but both are worth caring for them.

I try to expand the repair mentality to many concepts, but it is really hard to find shoes that will last longer than their soles. Today I decided to replace my slippers after having worn them nearly daily for more years than I can remember. Five? Seven? Sadly I can’t have them repaired, because they are completely worn out and one has broken to the point of tripping me every few days. The only thing still intact are the straps and buckles. I hope that my ankle boots will survive many years though so I’ll be able to take them to a shoemaker instead of buying new ones all the time, as I chose them specifically to be easy to maintain by classical measures.

Aside from that I really should learn how to mend clothes properly (right now two of my favourite pairs of tights are waiting for some new yarn), but most of my torn items are beyond hope, I fear. Especially my “sportswear”.

Last week I bought the first “new” pair of sweatpants since I moved out from my parents’ (nearly six years … and the sweatpants are even older) even though the old pair is still in a somewhat wearable condition, at least according to my definition. So I won’t throw away the old sweatpants immediately, despite the fact that they are starting to show the usual wear and tear, which looks really grubby on what used to be bright orange. I just don’t want to wear them around other people anymore, especially when said people wear crisp white abadás or at least somewhat decent gym clothes. The black pair I wear now will be more neutral in different settings, and more forgiving when it comes to ageing, I hope. Bonus: I got it for cheap at the second-hand store. I own another pair of older black sweatpants, but I don’t think that mending would salvage them, and I’ll put them away soon.

My usual gym shirt (a cotton band shirt I inherited years and years ago from a person I can’t remember) is so old and worn that it’s just a few holes shy of being more suitable for a rag. At least this way I don’t have to care about what happens to it when rolling around on the floor or whatever. But now that I try to put more efforts into my play the baggy shirt has become more of a nuisance and I switched to a double-layer of old black tops I found in the back of our closet. So I’m stuck with a shabby shirt I’m very attached to, and snug tops that are too short. At least I feel more confident in my newly assembled snug, black attire, and less like a total loser trying to keep up with the cool kids.

First lesson I take home from this … it’s important to repair things, to care for what I own, but at some point I’ll have to decide whether I want to be enslaved by my own rules, or whether I grant myself the freedom to replace something before it falls apart. Ask yourself if you need the new thing. If it’s a valid need, it doesn’t really matter whether it’s emotional or physical. I’m not talking about binge shopping to overcome depression, mind you, and neither would I dare comparing emotional needs to bare essentials like food for starving people! But if a young child wished for a plush alligator instead of grandma’s creepy old doll to protect them from monsters at night and it’s the only thing that will help them sleep, is this a less valid need than a new set of coloured pencils for the older sibling who is in school already? If someone is left by the love of their life, wouldn’t they feel the urge to replace the dishes that person bought for them after a while, because of the emotional weight of these everyday items? If a pair of sweatpants is what keeps me from seeing myself as the weird loser girl no one in their right mind would want to teach new moves, this investment is more justified than upgrading from a bar-style cell phone to a smartphone just because it’s soooo important to have good hardware when I don’t need one (yep, I still don’t own a smartphone. Maybe I’m a weird hippie with weird priorities.) I don’t have to buy new tank tops right away, because the ones I own are borderline comfortable and will (hopefully) do their job until I either decide to join a club and get their garb, or move to a different city. Ask yourself if it is a good thing to replace an item before its time, and take some time to come to an honest answer.

Speaking of replacing … I’d rather fix our laundry rack with glue and a chopstick than replace it with a new one I feel I’ll hate. I hate being “forced” to replace things. I want THIS laundry rack. I didn’t want to replace the cheap pair of kitchen scissors that was merely three years old, but it was next to impossible to fix them, which made me angry. Hi, my name is Starfish, I’m stubborn and very attached to random household items.

Second lesson: When replacing old stuff, buy sturdy things, if possible with exchangeable parts. Choose items of a quality that will make them survive the strongest or clumsiest person frequenting your living space, no matter whether that’s yourself, your spouse, random friends, or even the toddler or cat you want to add to your household in a few years from now. Buy neutral things in a style you really like – if you buy quality and intend to keep something for years, you shouldn’t follow currents trends, because otherwise you might be very angry with  yourself when next season that hot pink leather couch with lime green applications or the anatomically correct heart-shaped coffee table made from oakwood will be out of fashion.

Third lesson … I need to write shorter posts. This one started out as two short paragraphs, but then my mind began to wander.