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February's Short, So Appreciate Each Moment

This semi-retiree offers a few ways to make every day count

By Carol A. Cassara

Do we really need a month as short as February? 
My to-do list is so full that I notice and miss those few days we don’t get this time of year. It’s why I appreciate a Leap Year, but alas, we’ll have to wait until 2016 for that extra day.
Still, I’ve come to appreciate short February as reminder to make each day count, even — especially — in my older years. Oddly enough, technology was the catalyst for that epiphany.
My husband and I are semi-retired, both working part-time at home. Our dark secret is that we have developed addictions to sedentary pursuits. He’s addicted to The New York Times crossword puzzle and reading; I’m devoted to writing and reading. Together, we’re obsessed with a roster of diverting television shows and streaming movies.

(MORE: Binge-Watching Can Be Hazardous and Lots of Fun)
Sure, we walk our little dog at least twice daily and try to get to the gym regularly, but the things we really like to do? They’re not tennis or running or Pilates. They require more lounging than pounding.
At this age we know we can’t afford inactivity. But how can you remain active if the things you love are all done in a seated position?
The answer: it's easier than I thought.
Tracking To The Rescue
Since we began using those narrow rubber wrist bands that track steps, we’ve realized that simply doing chores around the house counts as activity. Even housework is a whole lot more active than sitting in a recliner watching Madam Secretary or Major Crimes.
We know this because the wrist bands track our daily steps and keep us aware of our activity level every day by time of day. Like everyone else, 10,000 steps is our goal — but we aim to exceed it. We’ve found that steps made as we organize the house, do laundry or even water the plants count.

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My husband was tickled when Fitbit sent him a corny email noting that he’d exceeded 70 miles of steps last month. I wasn’t far behind. It sounds silly, but that acknowledgement was motivation to continue.
Our devices remind us that as far as activity is concerned, every day counts, even in a short month. 
A Reminder To Broaden Our Perspective
But physical activity is not the only way to make each day count.
Those of us lucky enough to be mostly or completely retired and without an external schedule face the temptation to do nothing every day —  to stay home and not engage with the larger world. 
But life isn’t over at retirement. There’s still plenty to be done for ourselves, for others and for the world.

(MORE: Why It's Great to Be Middle-Aged)
We may be seniors, but the world still needs us, and one way to make each day count is to do something, no matter how small, not only for ourselves, but for the world around us. 
February may be the shortest month, but for me it’s become a reminder that each day is a gift, and I want to make it count.

Carol A. Cassara is an essayist whose work has appeared in the Christian Science Monitor, San Francisco Chronicle, Chicken Soup for the Soul, on public radio and in various other publications. She blogs daily at Read More
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