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Building Character and Relationships

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Currently, I am sitting outside in the bone-chilling cold. Well, it’s 11C (51F), but as a Floridian who has lived in Singapore for the past 6 years, I can barely feel my fingers as I type on my keyboard.

We are in Kentucky right now at the Red River Gorge for 5 days of rock climbing.

It has been such a change of scenery after being in NYC and Milwaukee for the past week and a half.

NYC was amazing to get to catch up with some incredible people I get to call friends and colleagues. We got to explore the city, eat great food, and share in an endless supply of laughs.

Then we moved on to Milwaukee which was really special because I got to see my step-sister get married. She is one of the most amazing people I have ever met and there was nothing that made me happier than to see her truly happy.

Truth be told, it was the first wedding I have ever cried at and I have been to dozens and dozens of weddings. Actually, there are two things that bring tears to my eyes: my step-sister getting married and the ending of an Undercover Boss episode. I know, I know. Don’t judge me.

In Milwaukee, we stayed at a very interesting Airbnb. It was a giant house that was built in 1895, and originally was a neighborhood for the rich and famous. The entire third floor was used as a ballroom for entertaining.

Unfortunately, the neighborhood changed over the years and most of the houses are really run down but there is still a lot of charm in the house we stayed in. Our hosts were wonderful. They picked us up from the airport and even drove us around a few times throughout our stay.

Not much has been done to the house in the last 100 years. The floors look original and creak every step you take. The foundation is slanted so the doors shut on their own. There are multiple pianos, Christmas decorations up in April, and the house appears to be a shrine to countless visits to garage sales.

It definitely built more character than staying at a generic chain hotel.

Now, staying in the Red River Gorge is a major change of scenery yet we continue to meet wonderful people.

Yesterday, we were purchasing some more rock climbing gear and found a couple of guys at the shop whose car broke down. They drove all the way down from Canada and they had no way of getting to the climbing areas. We offered for them to spend the day climbing with us and we had a fantastic time. We will be exploring more of what the Gorge has to offer today with them.

I was really skeptical about climbing in the USA because the climbing we did in SE Asia was so spectacular, but it has only been 2 days and I am blown away. The quality and quantity of the climbing here is incredible.

As this journey continues, I find more and more that fulfillment in life comes from connecting with and contributing to people.

Sure, doing things for yourself is fun for the moment, but lasting fulfillment comes from contributing to other people’s lives. It comes from connecting with other people. It comes from learning from other people’s lives and backgrounds that are different from your own. It comes from looking for ways to make someone else’s life better.

We don’t grow when we stay in our own little bubble.

We grow when we step outside of our comfort zone and connect with old friends as well as make new ones.

Give that old friend a call. Join the club or organization you have been putting off. Volunteer at a homeless shelter and look for ways to add value to the people around you.

I promise you. If you find enough ways to add value to other people’s lives, other people will find ways to add value to your life.

– Matt Westheimer

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