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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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From My Window

Work Addiction

By Jane Thibodeau Martin

After a total of 37 years of working for Scott Paper/Kimberly Clark, I will be retiring on Aug. 31st. I never envisioned working in the paper industry when I graduated from UW-Oshkosh, but sometimes it seems things happen to us for a reason, and the years have slipped away without much serious thought of changing employers.

My job has done many things for me " among others, it is where I met my husband; it provided me with money to buy a home, raise two children, and be able to help others along the way. I have always felt I was treated fairly, and that I was valued for my contributions to a successful business. Not everyone is as fortunate in their job satisfaction as I have been, and I appreciate that. I know a lot of people who hate their jobs, and really, life is so short it is sad to be so miserable for so many hours of life.

A co-worker of mine from the Marinette mill told me when she retired years ago that until she left the workplace, she never realized how "addicted to work," she had become. She refers to the times you think about a work problem while you are at home; you try to manage multiple priorities and expectations of not only your co-workers but your family and friends; and the times you change personal plans because your help was needed on site, although you are not scheduled to be at work.

So you learn, as a working mother, to function at a high level of flexibility and organization, because there is simply no other way to survive.

So the most frequent comment I am getting these days as people hear I am leaving the facility here in Oklahoma where I have worked for 16 years is "WHAT are you going to DO with yourself?" It seems people who only see me clipping along at my normal 100 mph at work are unable to picture me being retired at all. "Good luck with that!" they say to my husband, who will be working two more years. I think they envision me so bored with being retired that I drive him totally nuts.

Actually, I have a huge list of things I've always wanted to do, but have never had time to do. Some of them are self-improvement things, like taking regular Yoga lessons. Some are helping out worthy causes that I have always believed in. Some are tasks that need to be part of our complex plan to sell our current house, build a new one in Wisconsin, and move.

But the most inspirational thing I ever heard about being retired came from that same old co-worker at Marinette. In some ways, it would be safe to say she and I were a lot alike.

When people asked HER what she was going to do when she retired, she said "I am going to be a better wife, a better mother, a better sister, and a better friend." Her inspirational goal has stayed with me for more than a decade, and it's the same primary goal I have now set for myself.

There are lots of tears and hard goodbyes in my immediate future, but I know in my heart that no one ever goes to their deathbed thinking "I sure wish I had spent more time at work."


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