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Midlife Social Connects



Happy New Month MLE family!!!


It’s Wednesday again and you know what that means…


STORY TIME!


Sit back, relax, and enjoy this week’s story on Midlife Social Connects where you’ll meet Suzanne.


Are you ready? Let’s go…



A few years ago, I took a connecting flight between Lagos (Nigeria), Lomé (Togo), and Douala (Cameroon). At the Lagos airport, I observed a teenage girl and her mother standing in line to check-in on the same flight. The girl was acting like a typical teenager telling her mum, ‘I got this,’ ‘I can do it.’ I was wearing my official work branded shirt and I noticed that my eyes connected with the mother several times so I gave her a smile the next time our eyes met. I could feel the energy of the back and forth talk between mother and daughter, wow, such a beautiful experience to watch when two people have deep connections.


As you go through life, you will meet unique people along the way. Always remember that people help us create “Red Hot” Spicy Encounters in life.


People are like water - they are everywhere.

People are like oxygen - you will always need them.

People are like the clouds - shading, just passing through or may even drop rain.

People are like the wind - you either enjoy or run away from them.

People are like rain - get you refreshed, wet or flooded.


At midlife, you would have formed an ideology about people and relationships. Your views or general perception, experiences, environment, and results inspire the way you engage and relate with people in your life, people passing through, and people viewing or settling into your life.


Life can be a “Yellow Sunrise,” the daily beginning of beauty and grace, the refreshing feeling of the morning dew on the leaves of flowers and trees hmm, gently getting us wet as we touch or pass by the flowers. When we see people through the reflection of the Yellow Sunrise “wow” - this makes us really smile with joy. We then carry joy with a smile into our space, atmosphere and share with everyone we come in contact at work or while jogging.


Now, let’s continue the story of the girl and her mother. What made these people so unique to me?


Our layover at Lomé Airport was about 3 hours and the Covid-19 protocols made the waiting time shorter but more stressful. The teenage girl was now a few steps ahead of me and I realised that she had not picked a transit form so I gave her one. I asked her for her name and her destination and she told me her name was Suzanne and she was heading to Douala. She was going to school and joining her father for the first time. My reaction was priceless - “wow!” We cleared through customs, immigrations, and had to wait at the boarding gate of the beautiful Lomé airport.


I went through all the duty-free shops and then decided to have breakfast. I tried to make payment with my card but it declined, so I tried my 2 other bank cards and finally, one worked. I then realised Suzanne also had the same challenge while trying to pay but she had only one card. I decided to pay for her but she declined and called her mum to complain of her card issue. Then, I asked her if I could talk to her mum, and though reluctant, she agreed but put the phone on speaker.


I greeted her mum,

“Hello ma, Good Morning again. Trust you are at work now. Do you still remember me?”


“No, sorry, I don’t.” she replied.


“My name is Stir, we saw each other at the Lagos airport; I was the man in the red branded company shirt. Our eyes met a few times and you instinctively instructed me to watch over your daughter through your look and I also agreed with my funny look.” As I said this, Suzanne looked at me with a surprised expression on her face. I am sure she said “Like Seriously” in her mind.


The mother laughed and said “It’s nice to meet you Stir, my name is Marge, and you’ve met my daughter, Suzanne.”


I told Marge a little about my organisation and the event in Douala. She was silent on the other side for a while, so I think she was doing a quick google search on me and my organisation - because she asked for my name twice and repeated my organisation again. After conversing for a short time, I informed Marge of my intentions to pay for her daughter’s breakfast or snacks.


“She is hungry and she needs to eat but her card is not working. I’ll pay for her breakfast and when I come back to Nigeria, you can settle me” with a little laughter in my voice, - calm down…. I was joking.


The experiences we have had make us kind or helpful towards people, look at everyone suspiciously, or avoid face/body contact. If we choose to see people like the Yellow Sunrise and connect freely while enjoying the moment, our hearts will be filled with dew and joy every time regardless of the challenges we are facing. While we are not naïve of the security implications of connecting with people we thread with consciousness of the boundaries and exposures. For example at the security points at the airport - I was asked, are you travelling alone today, did you pack your bags by yourself? My answer is yes. So, Never check in, help carry a bag or go through security with a stranger especially if you are travelling regionally or internationally. Let wisdom direct you profitably.


Nevertheless, Social connections at a transit level inspire greater sense of appreciation and well-being. Showing kindness, giving a smile, and supporting others deepens your connection with yourself and helps you to become your authentic self with total strangers. Sometimes strangers are unknowingly telling us the things people around us cannot afford to voice or ask us questions that deepens the consciousness of our blind spots, vulnerabilities and our strengths.


Positive social connections at midlife are priceless; you will begin to experience a new range of emotions and connections outside your regular routine. We need to make efforts, as we go through our day, to connect with people around us, reconnect with lost friends, and touch the lives of people passing through our space. Connecting with new people sharpens your social skills and self confidence, you are entering into possible situations of avoidance, rejection and outright aggression from the different people you meet along the way, yet you keep making an effort to connect like a Yellow Sunrise. This is a sure way to build your self esteem and emotional ability.


It was now time for Suzanne and I to board our 2-hour flight to Douala. The plane was beautiful in and out. Suzanne was seated in the row next to mine and I made a request to the crew members to give her special assistance as it was only her second time on a plane; the first being her flight from Lagos to Lomé, and her first time meeting her father in Douala.

One of the crew members had lived in Douala for many years so she explained to Suzanne the beauty, the school, and the fun things to do in Douala. On the plane, Suzanne was given an extra pack of snacks and food and I saw her eyes lighten up with surprise. She looked my way and whispered a thank you, suspecting that I had suggested to the air hostess to treat her specially because she is young, beautiful and going to meet her dad for the first time. I think this really helped her nerves calm down and she enjoyed the journey better.


The Douala airport was not as beautiful as the Lomé airport but functional. Douala is the largest city in Cameroon and its economic capital. It is also the capital of Cameroon's Littoral Region. Home to Central Africa's largest port and its major international airport, Douala International Airport (DLA), it is the commercial and economic capital of Cameroon and the entire region comprising Gabon, Congo, Chad, Equatorial Guinea, Central African Republic and Cameroon. Somehow Douala reminds me of Bauchi and Benin city in Nigeria, they just seem to have a common connection.


We took our luggage and I watched as Suzanne found her father. It was not too hard to spot him as he held the card with her name boldly, an excited look on his face as he was surrounded by the bus load of people he had come with. I smiled, yet close to tears, as I watched father and daughter unite for the first time with a deep, long embrace and slightly lifting her off her feet. Wow… such a beautiful sight to behold. I locked eyes with Suzanne from a distance and gave her a “Naval Salute” and then walked towards the awaiting white double-cabin vehicle ready to go on my 70 minutes road trip into the outskirts of the country.

By the time Suzanne told her father and they both looked back, I was already in the vehicle, on the move and waving at daddy and daughter with a wide smile on my face.

Like the Yellow Sunrise - My job is done here.


( or so I thought…)


 

Did you enjoy this week’s story?


3 days into my 7-day trip, I was back in Douala dining at La-Pizzeria one evening and something very funny happened;


The food in the top restaurants in Douala are a bit pricey but the meals are really nice, carefully and stylishly served…


Do you want to see how Suzanne’s story continued?

Let us know in the comments


 

Remember our Midlife Encounters Book Series?


ANTICIPATE!


Midlife Encounters Series 3: Red Hot


Midlife Encounters Series 8: Yellow Sunrise


 

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