I was born in the small town of Passo Fundo but grew up in Florianopolis, Brazil. I was the middle of three girls, but I never behaved like the typical one. When I was a child, my best friend was a boy. I was more into climbing trees than playing with dolls and I was famous for beating up the boys who picked on my little sister. When I was 12 years old, my dad took me to my first martial arts class. We both fell in love with it and started taking classes together.
At the martial arts school where I started, I was one of two girls. About 6 months later, there were nine of us. At that time, a guest instructor came to give a seminar to all the schools in town. In one of the speeches he gave, he said women don’t usually stick to martial arts. He proclaimed that out of all of us, only one, would become a black belt. On hearing this, I decided that ONE would be me!
I know it’s part of human nature to pass judgment on others, but we shouldn’t limit our opinion simply based on one’s gender, look, race, religion, age etc. I know quite a few women who are stronger and more powerful than many men. I also know women who are beautiful and intelligent at the same time…shocking? My grandmother is 91 years old, she goes to the gym twice a week, drives everywhere wrote a book five years ago, and uses social media. My husband started working when he was six, by the time he was twelve, he was paying the rent of his family home. For them, age was never an issue or an excuse to not do something.
Once someone told me I was a trophy wife, at the time, I didn’t know what that meant, I was still perfecting my English. Of course, I immediately asked my friend Google and yes, I was offended! I have no problem with the roles other people choose to play in their lives as long as it doesn’t affect mine, but being a trophy wife went against my core values and the way I was raised! I felt like I should go after that person to tell her she was wrong. But then I realized, if that’s what she thinks, let it be. I know who I am, and what I do, whatever she thinks, is her problem not mine. Admittedly though, I got a little more excited about keeping that tittle as far away as possible. Similar to the man who judged us 9 girls and doubted our ability to become successful in a male dominant environment, her words have become an incredible motivator!
I not only became a black belt, but an instructor, a world champion and a school owner. From my passion, Martial Arts became my career. I also became more disciplined, respectful and confident. Because I am so grateful for everything that has happened in my life through Martial Arts, I want every single person to have the opportunity to experience it! I have four step children who are all black belts and in some capacity work in our company. Just like them, my daughter won’t have a choice, she will do martial arts! If she chooses to make that her career I will be thrilled, if she chooses something else, that’s wonderful too. For now, having her do what I believe is beneficial for her is the best thing I can do. This applies to every decision I make for her; enforcing healthy eating habits, having a structured routine, taking care of her personal hygiene, developing social skills or learning to swim. In my grandma’s book she mentioned her mother, who I unfortunately never had the chance to meet. She raised 11 children of her own plus a couple more cousins and not once did she raise her voice. That stuck in my mind. I vowed, I would treat my daughter with the most patience, love and respect possible. That which every human being deserves. I am also firm and disciplinary. I know every decision we make when our children are young, will impact their future. Their character will be based on the habits they develop at a young age. I have had to adjust my work schedule, so I can be with Annabella most of the time and influence her development. My husband and I constantly talk about what kind of person we want her to be when she grows up and from there, we act accordingly. Especially in the formative years, it’s like having a blueprint. We need to stick to it, so we build a successful human being. This is my way of showing appreciation to the one who filled my heart and my life with love and joy from the moment I found she was in my womb, to the one who made me a better person, to the one who made me a mother.
I love Brazil, I love my language, even so, my husband and I speak English to each other. I speak Portuguese to our daughter. My husband speaks a mix of Portuguese, English and Spanish to her. When I am working, her nanny (from Croatia) speaks a fusion of languages to her. I have no idea what she is saying to Annabella, but they understand each other.
Being a woman in Brazil is a little bit different than in America… You pretty much get used to men harassing you on the streets or when you go to a night club you can bet someone will touch you inappropriately. Of course, that was my chance to use self defense moves, which I thoroughly enjoyed, but the feeling of not having to worry about it is much better! As far as women rights, one of the only things I believe is better realized in Brazil is that pregnant women always have priority (lines, parking etc.) and nursing in public is acceptable anywhere. We do however always keep our tops on when we are on the beach (I know, you think Brazilians are always naked).
Unfortunately the current situation in Brazil is so bad, I can’t imagine ever living there again. Brazilians are tired of dealing with government corruption and misadministration of public funds. When education, healthcare and safety are the country’s biggest challenges, it’s unacceptable the way the money from tax payers is spent. Politicians living like kings, spending thousands of dollars on trips with their families and other things the country doesn’t need. For example, the cost of last year’s World Cup was around 15 billion dollars and the Olympics next year are estimated to cost even more! If I still lived there I would definitely be banging my pots in the streets! Everyone deserves the opportunity to create a better I believe gratitude starts with the feeling, first we need to be able to recognize the good things we have in our lives, acknowledge them and then show appreciation through our actions. It is indeed much easier to be grateful when things are going well for us, but maybe if we see the positive things in our lives and be grateful for what we have instead of focusing on what’s going wrong, we will be able to see clear and for sure better things will come our way.
life and that’s one of the main reasons I’m incredibly grateful to be living in America! Of course, the way I express my gratitude is by paying all my taxes 😉