I've been back to my own school for the past three days, mostly working to get my room cleaned and organized and ready for the kiddos. Tomorrow we have our first faculty meeting/ professional development day of this new school year. The topic?
In a letter from our school Directorship, tomorrow we're tasked with this: " Let’s spend one day experiencing, exploring, and discussing how PLAY manifests in our nervous systems to help us create social relationships and emotional regulation."
We'll be learning about the idea promoted by Jaak Panksepp, current neuroscientist, who "believes that PLAY is one of 7 biological motivational systems in the brain that promotes self-regulation, and that it is one of the brain’s major sources of joy."
Now, I really didn't need a neuroscientist to give validity to our play in Colombia, but I appreciate the segue between school life and real life, between work and play, about living fully and nurturing relationships and how we got to play in Cartagena!
In Cartagena, our days were full with joy, inquiry, intense reflection and intense connections. There were school visits and taxi rides, coordination and collaboration with my fellow American teachers, hotel showers, and lessons and presentation preparations.
And their was The Heat. I came to understand that there were five of experiencing Cartagena together -- Jen, John, Sherri, Michael, and The Heat. And not just heat; heat + humidity. While billions of people live in similar climates, I do not, and The Heat was a companion I have not known so intimately in my life. Yes, we met when we lived in Charleston, South Carolina, and when Sarah and I were in southern China in July 2011. But The Heat seemed to be in a cranky, hot-mess kind of mood in Cartagena (and, I can honestly say, I do not love Cartagena any less because of it.)
I think that if it were not for a few times in which we played, I would not have been so mentally and emotionally and even physically resilient. Our play in the waters of the Caribbean Sea gave me the chance to laugh. To let go of the stress of the day. I was able to connect anew with my friends. Splashing in the waves, bopping in the water, being overtaken by a wave, closing our mouths before swallowing a big-ole- gulp of salty water, snorkeling - It was a salve for my soul, leaving me feeling buoyant and deliciously human.
Thank you, Sherri, John, and Michael for playing in Cartagena.