Goals, objectives, strategies, outputs, and outcomes


The other night at dinner one of my children was talking about his goals. My daughter-in-law asked, “Are you talking about goals, objectives, strategies, outputs, or outcomes? They’re all different, you know.”

I messaged her this morning to ask her to list them again and then I started looking up the differences.

Most of the websites that define the terms are about grant-writing — which makes sense because Emily writes grants for her job.

I read through several websites. As best I can figure out,

  • a Goal is broad and general. It defines purpose.
  • Objectives are specific and concrete. They move you toward your goal.
  • your Strategy is the approach you take
  • your Output is the actual result of your work
  • your Outcome are the changes that were wrought as a result of whatever it is you’re doing

I smiled and nodded as I read. I understood, but the hard part is application.

So I decided to tackle just one goal à la Emily the grant writer.

GOAL — to keep my father home.

The top story in today’s newspaper cemented that: 

This happened in the nursing home where my mother had been. I get a pit in my stomach when I read these stories.

I know that not everyone can care for their family member at home for a number of reasons. To those of you who cannot, I give this advice: Be present. On a regular basis, be there. Talk to the staff. Talk to the other residents. Look through your family member’s closet and dresser to make sure things are there, clean, and belong to your family member.

My goal, though, is to keep my father home.

OBJECTIVE — Live in the same house with him.

STRATEGY — Move to Cooperstown. I know many people move their parent(s) in with them, but, for a number of reasons, this wasn’t the best option for us. I moved here in 2015 with my two youngest daughters and we hoped that my husband would soon join us.

This house had become the repository for many family members. In order for us to live here, we had to clear stuff out.

And we did.

But there’s still a long way to go.

OUTPUT —We’re here and my father is here.

We’ve reclaimed rooms in the house so the kids have space that is theirs. I’ve slowly whittled away at stuff that has accumulated here. Two loveseats went to the curb a few weeks ago and were quickly taken. I’m making headway with the boxes of papers. We still have more to go, but we’re moving in the right direction.

After being a frequent flyer at the Emergency Room for chest pain, my father’s doctor and I came up with a strategy. She told me to 1) Sit him in his recliner with his feet up. 2) Check his blood pressure. 3)DON’T take him to the ER for at least 2 hours unless his numbers look bad. The first few times were rough — he was very insistent that he needed to go, but with his BP, pulse, and O2 all normal, I told him that we needed to wait. Each time whatever it was passed and he went back to bed. We’re making progress.

OUTCOME —My father is still home. It’s not so much a change as standing our ground.

I think that’s an accomplishment. It’s not easy. It’s hard on everyone, but as the doctor we saw today said, “I would do anything for this man.”

My father is that kind of person. Having lived a generous life, he should be able to reap some of what he has sown.

B is for Boxing, Baseball, and Burl Ives

I have the feeling that my father was more the scrapbooker than my mother.

From his childhood, he had albums with photos mounted using photo corners onto black paper and funny captions written in white. My mother simply kept memorabilia stashed in a drawer or box — a mish-mash of notes, photos, and newspaper clippings. I follow my mother’s ways.

No matter who actually compiled it, we have a huge scrapbook that follows my mother and father’s relationship from first dates to wedding to first child to internship appointment in Cooperstown. My father pulls it out from time to time and leafs through it. The scrapbook has fallen apart and been put back together so many times, though, that it’s no longer in the right order.

“What was I thinking?!” my father said while looking through the scrapbook recently. “I took your mother to a boxing match!”

Sure enough, he took her to several boxing matches. I’ve never understood the sport of boxing. It’s so barbaric — putting two guys in a ring and having them punch each other until one is unconscious.

He also took her to the Ice Follies. I think he redeemed himself with that one.

A hockey game — the Bruins v. Red Wings. This was on his birthday, so maybe my mother got those tickets as a birthday present for him.

And a baseball game — the Red Sox v Tigers. 60c each for bleacher seats (he saved the stubs), and my father faithfully kept score in the program. Final score 8 – 5, Boston.

My father always loved folk music. He told me once that he used to treat himself occasionally on payday to the newest Burl Ives record, purchasing it at a little record store somewhere near the hospital. We still have a lot of those records.

So I was delightfully surprised when I was looking through the scrapbook and saw that he and my mother had gone to see Paint Your Wagon at the Shubert Theater in Boston — starring none other that Burl Ives. I’ll bet he sang “Wandering’ Star” a lot better than Lee Marvin.

I try to remember what Bud and I did for our first dates. We didn’t go to boxing matches or any other sporting events. We went for walks. We went to an auction. We went to church. We went to the movie “Coal Miner’s Daughter” and had to wait in line to get into the theater. We went to the drive-in and locked ourselves out of the car.

But we didn’t keep a scrapbook to tell the story for future generations.

I’m thankful my parents did.

2018 Blogging from A to Z: About My Dad

Tomorrow the A to Z Blogging Challenge starts. I missed the deadline for the Theme Reveal and I’m pretty sure I signed up twice. It makes me wonder how this year’s challenge will go.

Writing has been such a struggle lately. I can’t seem to find a chunk of time to write. Writing, or, for that matter, doing anything “in dribs and drabs,” as my mother used to say, is a challenge. It takes time to get into the right mindset and find the right words. For me, an interruption comes and I’ve been sent back to Monopoly/Writing Jail without collecting $200 or 200 words or anything.

Recently I had this horrible dream:

I was walking in a field with my family — my husband, my children, my siblings, and my father. The field grew swampy, and we were talking about how it hadn’t always been that way and how we planted corn on it in the past. The path was narrow and my father stepped too close to the swamp. As he fell in, the swamp became a deep hole full of water and I jumped in to save him. He was sinking so I swam beneath him to get his head to the surface so he could breathe. As I pushed him up to the surface, I felt myself running out of air. While underwater, I could see some family members sitting to rest, but they hadn’t noticed him falling in. No one was coming to rescue us. I couldn’t call for help because I was underwater. My father couldn’t call for help because he can’t think clearly. I realized that I needed air and I needed to get help, but to do that, I would have to let go of my father. I used all my strength to heave him up and then pushed myself toward the surface for a breath. He slid past me, like dead weight, and I grabbed his hands. Instead of reaching the surface, I went down, down, down into darkness.

Then I woke up. It was an awful dream. I don’t need a Joseph to interpret it, but it served as a warning.

To misquote an African proverb: It takes a family to care for the elderly.

I’m so thankful that I DO have a strong and supportive family. My brothers, my sister, my children, my husband all pitch in.

The other night, when my father fell around midnight, Karl was right there ready to help. He drove us to the hospital and then stayed with my father so I could go home and get a little sleep before I went to work at 5 AM. (My father ended up with stitches in his forehead and staples in his scalp. Everything else seems to be okay.) I know Karl wouldn’t let me drown.

Helen is taking days off from work to stay with my father so Bud and I can get away for a mini-vacation. She did the same thing back in January. She’s not going to let us drown.

And I need to make sure I ask for help BEFORE I’m underwater. (Lifesaving 101)

But back to the A to Z Challenge. I decided to adopt this theme: About My Dad.

Writing about who he was will help me with who he is.

Plus, he’s one of my favorite people in the whole world. I think you’ll like him, too.

Dad and Jim, summer 1968

I just have to make sure I carve out those chunks of time for writing.

When Boys Become Men

The other day I worked a few hours in the mid-day so that the full-time staff could attend a meeting together. Karl was heading into the gym anyway to work out so I grabbed a ride with him. I made arrangements with “Fred” to pick me up, which turned out to be a good thing since I had forgotten my phone.

When I finished work I headed to the front door to wait for my ride. A number of welcoming couches sit in the lobby with a good view of the circle where cars pick up and drop off people. I thought about sitting — I tend to stand and pace when I lifeguard — but a man was sitting on one of the couches and I didn’t feel like making small talk so I stood at the door.

I stood.

And waited.

And watched.

Fred must have forgotten me, I figured. Fifteen minutes had passed and there was no sign of him. Sometimes he gets involved in his reading and loses track of the time. Really, don’t we all do that when we’re in the midst of a good book?

I walked back to the pool and called the landline at the house. No one answered, so I left a message, and walked back out to wait some more.

My feet were tired. I wanted to sit, but that darn man was still sitting in the lobby, his back to me, engrossed in a book. I sighed and decided to chance the small talk.

When I rounded the couch, I realized that the man was Fred!

How can a mother not recognize her own son?

One minute a little boy’s eyes are twinkling with mischief. His hair is tousled or buzzed right off. His t-shirts reveal what he had for lunch that day — or dinner the night before. His knees are covered with Buzz Lightyear bandaids. His feet are bare.

And the next minute, he’s six foot something, with hair cut by a stylist and clothes carefully coordinated for the activities of the day.

My whole family was together this past weekend. The kids all went into the sports center to play squash and swim. One of the ladies at the front desk stopped me on Monday.

“I saw some of your boys at the gym this weekend,” she said.

“They were all at the gym,” I told her.

“Even Sam?” she asked. She knows he lives thousands of miles away.

“Yes, even Sam,” I replied.

I pulled out my phone to show her a picture I had taken while everyone was together.

“Oh, my,” she said as I identified each of my children. “They’re all so grown up!”

Back row: Philip, Amanda, Sam, Donna, me, Bud
Middle row: Helen, Laurel, Owen, Emily
Middle row .5: Henry
Front row: Mary, Karl, “Fred”

Yes, they are.

Boys become men.

Girls become women.

Family remains family — and grows.

I am so blessed.



October Gratitude

On October 29, I am grateful for these — collected over the course of the month.

  1. Harvest time
  2. A few stalks left behind
  3. Airports
  4. A full-circle rainbow seen from above
  5. Tennessee sunrise
  6. A quiet place to stay
  7. That bald-headed guy resting his arm on the chair (below)
  8. The woman in the middle in the greenish shirt (above) (Her eyes always sparkle.)
  9. Dining with friends
  10. A new book
  11. An afternoon walking around a mall with a friend (sorry, no picture)
  12. The Dalek I saw there
  13. A bald eagle sighting
  14. A new job
  15. Chipmunks in the house (only the tail visible here)
  16. Mice trapped in an empty can and released into the wild
  17. Beautiful sunsets
  18. A girl to take the picture for me while I drive (rearview mirror)
  19. Late autumn colors
  20. The way the afternoon sun hits the hills
  21. Concentric spiky circles
  22. Apples
  23. Pears
  24. Hallmark movies
  25. Family humor
  26. A funny sign
  27. A visit from my grandson (the walker isn’t his)
  28. My father and my grandson playing together
  29. A military funeral (no photo, but a memory I’ll hold onto)

How has your October been?



I’m beginning to anticipate
What his response might be —
My mother blamed “the others”
For things we didn’t see,
But my father’s not a blamer
So, when he can’t explain
“It fell down from the sky,” he says,
Like some mysterious rain.

I crawled around the other day
With flashlight in my hand.
Half his hearing aid was missing
And I tried to understand
How these darn things fall apart so much
Half in one room, half another
I would have blamed “the others”
Had I been my mother.

Then Laurel called me from the kitchen
“Wha-T?” I said, but I
Emphasized the “T” too much —
And I can tell you why —
I was getting irritated
At the time that it had cost
Looking for a hearing aid
Half of which was lost.

“Grampa wants you,” she said timidly
And so I went to see
What it was he wanted now
From irritated me
“I found it!” he was saying.
I was surprised at what I saw
The missing piece of hearing aid
Resting in his paw.

“Where’d you find it?” I demanded.
I knew I should happy
But, you know, I wanted answers
And he’d better make them snappy.
“Can you fix it?” he was asking —
Not answering my question
It’s a skill he has in conversation –
Changing the direction

But I was dogged — “Where’d you find it?”
“It fell out of the sky,”
He said, as if that answer
Would satisfy my cry.
He told me again yesterday
When I asked about a pin
He had fastened to his sweatshirt
And I asked where it had been —

Apparently the sky inside
Varies precipitation.
Outside I see it raining rain
Inside, to my frustration,
It yields an odd assortment
Of hearing aids and stuff
That I couldn’t have imagined.
I should be thankful; it’s enough —

The lost hearing aid was found
I’m not still crawling on the ground


For Peter:

Perhaps another explanation is that a wolverine
Creeps into the house at night, stealthily, unseen
And hides my father’s hearing aids
Tapes them to the ceiling
Whence they fall on Dad, while I am searching, kneeling.

A Brief Recounting of Our Trip to France

I confess — I had to look up the meaning of evanescent, this week’s photography challenge. It means “soon passing out of sight, memory, or existence; quickly fading or disappearing.”

That’s describes my trip to France, I thought.

Life is already crowding out the moments I thought I would savor for a long time.

To hold onto the memories a little longer, I put together a two picture per day summary.

May 13 — Travel day

British Airways took very good care of us. At the urging of a friend, I upgraded both my father and my brother to each have a “Biz Bed”. Because we were traveling with someone who needed assistance (my father was in a wheelchair), we also got special treatment. I’m not exactly sure what all the little dots meant, but they were good. My brother and father got to eat in the British Airways lounge before the flight, while Bud and I had a quiet dinner in a little airport restaurant. 

It was pouring when we left Newark. This was my view out the window.

May 14 Arrive in France, make our way to Normandy

My sister and her husband met us at the airport.

When we finally arrived at Bayeux, we were tired and hungry. I had Croque Monsieur for the first time in my life at a little cafe a stone’s throw from our hotel.

May 15 Normandy

We loved everything about our hotel in Bayeux, the Villa Lara. This rabbit guarded the stairway door.

For our first day with our guide, he brought us to the Pegasus Bridge and the Canadian cemetery. Colin had so many stories to tell, but I think my favorite of all of them was here, of the bagpiper who played for the British troops.

May 16 Normandy

We had coffee every morning in a little sitting area off my sister’s room. I loved seeing the cathedral.

Among the places we visited this day was Sainte-Mère-Église where a paratrooper had gotten caught on the church steeple.

May 17 Normandy — then travel to Paris

The craters from the shelling at Omaha Beach were very impressive.


The view from a German bunker at Omaha Beach.

Then we drove to Paris.

May 18 Paris

We walked around Paris. Old and new stand side by side.

Dinner cruise on the Seine. The Eiffel Tower is pretty spectacular.

May 19 Paris

LaDuree — the macaroons are amazing.

Impressive art at the Petit Palais.

May 20 Travel day

The return trip. Waiting at the airport.


I’m easily amused. I thought “Salad Sauce” was funny. The flight home felt a thousand times longer — I looked for entertainment where I could find it.

May 21 Collapse

This was how we all felt the next day.