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Thursday, April 24, 2014

After 30 years, time to slow down

By Bonnie Bing

It seems word is out: I am retiring.

When people I don’t know walk up and tell me what they think of this decision, I guess it’s time to make it official.

I’ve been typing away in this newsroom since 1980. I have always said that I have the best job in the world, and I continue to think I totally lucked out when executive editor Buzz Merritt and managing editor Joe Harper insisted I come to work here. The late Diane Lewis sealed the deal, and I stumbled off the elevator one Monday morning not knowing straight up from sic ’em. It was going to be on-the-job learning for sure.

Jon Roe was given the task of teaching me how to write. How lucky was I to get to learn from such a superb writer! I still hear his voice when I’m writing. And I must say that he’s the one who convinced me I could do this job.

“Just write the way you talk. Use your voice,” he would say when my writing was stilted, contrived — and who knows what else. After much prodding, I decided to just “talk” to the readers. As a former junior high physical education teacher, then an assistant athletic director in women’s athletics, it took a long time before I could say, “I am a writer” and believe it.

Fran Kentling, who quickly became a dear friend, encouraged me and continually gave me good advice. The job I decided to try for a year turned into two years, then three. And now it’s more than three decades later. There have been very few days when I wanted to jump off the roof, slam the phone down or hide under my desk — as if that would be possible with all the junk I have under there.

It’s been interesting how many people have suggested other jobs I should do after leaving The Eagle. They suggest another company to work for or another career to take up. No, no. If I wanted to work, I’d stay right here.

People have asked what I’m going to do to stay busy. Actually, I don’t want to be busy. I love the volunteer work I do in our community, and I’m not retiring from that. But I’m looking forward to a slower pace with a lot fewer deadlines. It seems I can’t figure out any other way to slow down. In the past year, there have been too many days of feeling a bit overwhelmed. I’m not spending enough time with the very important people in my life. It’s time to quit scheduling every hour of every day. I’m not complaining one bit because I know how lucky I’ve been to look forward to going to work. And I’m thankful every day that I love my life. There’s just so much of it. And that’s a good thing.

More on all this later. My last day isn’t until June 28, so don’t stop reading! It’s going to be fun to take a look back in future columns.

Reach Bonnie at 316-268-6246 or by e-mailing bbing@wichitaeagle.com.

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