Monday, March 9, 2009

Burning Ditches

When I was a kid growing up in the country, my Dad had a tradition of sorts. He had us burn the ditches every spring.

We lived about ½ a mile from any neighbors, and our property was surrounded by fields, woods and a small river just past the fields. Our gravel driveway was about 200 yards long and a good portion of it had ditches on either side.

Every winter would pile snow into the ditches. Every spring thaw would form small lakes that eventually dried leaving matted down, dead weeds, grass and the like covering the ditches. On the first Saturday of spring where the sky was clear and the winds calm, we pulled out the shovels, rakes, garden hose, and matches. By early afternoon, trickles of smoke drifted to the sky, the scent of burnt grass filled the air and an ugly black covered the ditches.

Why burn them? I asked that question once. Dad said it was to get rid of all the dead, wasted grass and allow the ground to breathe again. With the ground able to breathe, new life would grow faster and fuller than before. And he was right. Within a few days, new life could be seen; within a week it was flourishing.

It seems to me that many of us need to burn some ditches too, only the ditches aren’t in the driveway, they’re in our minds. We’ve grown so accustomed to a particular lifestyle that was created with a particular job. With jobs being eliminated, it’s time to clear our minds of the same thoughts that we lived by for the past 10 years in order to see the new opportunities that are out there for us. Opportunities exist everywhere; we just need to get rid of some of the dead grass in order to see them.

To help with that, I am involved with a group called Rise Above that is putting on free seminars to help those who are unemployed. The goals are to help everyone find hope, see opportunities, develop resume writing, interviewing and networking skills in order build that next career. The seminars are at Rasmussen College in Green Bay and start on April 1. Look for more information and pass the word so we can make others feel like they've won the lottery.

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