Is Anybody Out There?

Do you ever wonder why you’re blogging (or any other form of public sharing)? Are your words or images truly reaching others? Are they making a difference?

Yesterday, I received the following email from a man named Jerry.

Greetings:
If at all possible, I would like to be in contact with the author of the postings cataloging her long-distance pilgrimage along with her husband from Lucca to Rome.
I believe her name is Donna Connolly.
My wife and I plan to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary this coming September by walking the route she so skillfully documented.
For our own use, I made up a document of their 24-day stroll as we plan to try to duplicate their adventure, including making advance reservations.
As veterans of both the Camino de Santiago route Camino Frances and the Caminho Portuguese, along with several other long-distance walks, we appreciate her insights and the valuable information contained in her daily postings.
Please send our appreciation to Ms. Connolly for her dedication to sharing this experience.
Warm regards.
Jerry andย  Salie

 

I was deeply touched. So often we have no idea how our words can affect others…or who they reach.

This was an excellent reminder for me to fill my words with purpose and kindness. And to keep on blogging.

Thank you, Jerry and Salie.

When were you reminded of the impact of your own words?

Feature Photo: Greg Rakozy, Unsplash.

97 Replies to “Is Anybody Out There?”

  1. A lovely, timely email. But on a more mundane level, I adore the day-to-day correspondence I have with many of my blogging friends. A wonderful community of creative, thoughtful, like-minded people. They—and you!—make my life richer, and I am ever so grateful.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Wow, Donna, how cool!
    I do wonder, sometimes, if my words reach people. Not necessarily if they read them, but if they make a difference. It’s clear that yours have – to this couple, but to me and all of us who regularly read your writing.
    In a way it’s like teaching…you’re never sure who you are touching and in what way you are affecting their lives. I’ve had adults, who were my students in middle school, come up to me at one event or another and tell me what a difference I made in their life. It brings me to tears each time.
    Yes, we are “out there.”

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    1. Hi, Nancy – Thank you for your kind and thoughtful words. I agree with you on the power of students letting us know the difference that teachers made in their lives. One of my favourites of these was when a previous student (who had been a regular in my office when I was Middle School Principal) came back to visit several years later. He said that he made the trip to the school especially to apologize to me. When I asked for what…he said “for everything”! ๐Ÿ˜€

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  3. Donna, a while back, a lady came up to me at a community function and said, “I love following your adventures on your blog, my husband and I used to travel a lot and it reminds me of that.” Her husband passed away several years ago. I had no idea she even knew I had a blog. She has never left a comment, but says she reads every post. Knowing that she is reading reminds me to ‘fill my words with purpose and kindness’ as you so eloquently stated. We truly never know who might be influenced, touched or persuaded by our words. It is a responsibility that comes with the territory. Beautiful post.

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  4. That’s such a pleasant surprise, Donna. I think it goes a long way to helping to boost our blogging confidence.
    I had a similar email earlier this week which I’m including part of in an upcoming post next week. I love all the comments I get on my blog posts, but these types of emails make it all the more worthwhile. I think we have many readers out there who don’t blog and who don’t make any kind of contact with us. When they go that extra mile and make contact with us, it can cause many of us even more happier to know that our words are reaching so far into the lives of others.

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  5. Hi Donna,
    So heartwarming to read this.
    Blogs were among the first what are the ubiquitous social media. Traditional media was mostly one-way communication.
    Now, most of the postings on public media do get seen, at least by a small number of people. But what really makes the difference is when at least one of the readers, not merely connects back with the author but also expresses appreciation.
    — bpradeepnair.blogspot.com

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    1. Hi, Pradeep – Thank you for your thoughtful comment. I only began blogging in my retirement. I often wished that I have been blogging for longer. It would have been cool to witness the early days, and the unfolding changes!

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  6. Such wonderful surprise and feedback, Donna. Thank you for the reminder, too as sometimes I’ve wondered if my travel (or other) posts reach anyone. Love your choice of the header photo for this post. Keep on blogging ๐Ÿ™‚

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    1. Hi, Natalie – Thank you for commenting on the header photo. In searching for this image, I was reminded of all of the incredible photographers who put there work out there free of charge, without requiring recognition. Their generosity is astounding (and greatly appreciated)!

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  7. Wow! That was a real influence! Recently I’ve been raving about my Fitbit. It works for me but may not for everyone. I found out that three people bought one as a result of my postings. They were on the fence about it and decided to try it. I’m like that too. Every once in a while a blogger will post about something that I’m considering and their influence goes a long way.

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    1. I am another reader who bought a fitbit as a result of your post. I was on the fence as I did not think I could set one up but you gave me the confidence to try. I am still not sure how I feel about my watch sending me e.mails to say it needs charging.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi, Anne – Thank you for letting us know that you are one of the people who was influenced by Kate’s fitbit post. That is so cool. I wish that my phone would send me emails before its battery died. It could save me from frustrating situations! ๐Ÿ˜€

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      2. I needed to read this. I was questioning my writing, my reasons and the impact on myself and whether I was reaching anyone. This was so timely. I’ve referred to it in my upcoming blog. Thanks for the boost in blogging confidence.

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  8. Hi Donna! Congratulations! It is so nice to hear from a reader and such a good reminder of why we do what we do. Your words DO touch people Donna…and not just your fellow blogger fans! My favorite experience of that was when we visited Ajijic Mexico a few years ago and we met some new friends of a friend who now live there. We spent a pleasant evening talking about all sorts of things and I happen to mention my blog. When we returned home I got an email from her saying that she couldn’t believe that we met in person. She said she had read an article online over six months ago and it so impressed her that she printed out part of it and put it on her mirror at home to read every day. And YEP that article was mine. The world is smaller than we know and we touch more people than we know. While it would be nice if MORE people told us about such experiences but hey, when they do happen they are magical. ๐Ÿ™‚ ~Kathy

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Fascinating. This is a wonderful tribute to the power of the written word and to the fact that blogs are worth the time it takes us to write posts. Or to write comments.

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    1. Hi, Darlene – Jerry’s unexpected email came at a perfect time. Like many bloggers, I have been struggling with how much blogging is right for me, and if I would like to take a long (or permanent) break. His words made a positive difference.

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  10. When I wrote about the “baptism” of a little African boy we’d been invited to. He was the son of friends of my parents, in West Africa. After we left the country, the colonel was arrested, tortured and assassinated by the local dictator. His wife and the baby managed to escape. A few months after I wrote the post I got a comment and then a mail from the “little boy” now a grown man. I still can’t believ it. ๐Ÿ™‚
    Cheers

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  11. Oh Donna, I think this is just about the best compliment a blogger can get!! We don’t often know how we might have influenced others, but when we do, it’s really cool! How thoughtful of Jerry to reach out to you like that.

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    1. Hi, Joanne – It was cool and I greatly appreciate it. Especially since Jerry had to go out of his way to track me down (I think he had first saw my post on the Camino Forum and tried to find contact details for me through them). I am greatly looking forward to summer and shenanigans! ๐Ÿ˜€

      Liked by 1 person

  12. That is so cool, Donna! Yes, you kept careful documentation of your journey with photos, so I’m sure if folks googled it, the posts would be at the top of google. I have had some fun interactions. One made me laugh early in my blogging journey. There is an immense tree farm along Hwy 84 on the Oregon/Washington border. I had taken pics of it and eventually included it in a post for a photo challenge. I googled it myself and included some info about it. A few months later, my niece texted and told me she googled the tree farm and my blog post was the second entry. We never realize the impact of our words and often helpful information. Your writing and photography impact so many on their retirement journey, Donna! Congrats!

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  13. Hi Donna, what a lovely email. As a blogger, trying to find our space it is always heart warming to receive feedback such as this. Recently, I’ve had two emails from readers who don’t usually comment but follow my blog. Both were reaching out for help and it was such a good feeling to know that they trusted me enough to share their problems and ask for my advice. That is what I’m all about – helping others. We all inspire each other in many ways but it validates our purpose when someone takes the time to let you know that in some way you have made a difference to their lives. xx

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  14. Thatโ€™s lovely and so deserving, Donna. You did document so much useful information regarding this trip and in such an entertaining way.
    Well, as for me just today I had lunch with a molecular biologist friend of mine (the one who taught me and my former lab how to conduct real-time DNA analyses) and he actually called me a mentor of his. Said he often thinks about things I have said and has taken them to heart. I was stunned.

    Deb

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      1. Ooooh boy! The pressure. ๐Ÿ˜œ Joanne is the true mistress of shenanigans, not me! Iโ€™m always surprised when people even show that they are listening to me, let alone that something I said resonated with them. Guess that comes from having had teenagers in the house ๐Ÿคฃ. Maybe I shouldnโ€™t run off my mouth so much…hmmm?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Okay, we’ll give Joanne the role of Shenanigans Mentor in August. But you will have to take over after that. And wasn’t it YOU who tried to get her to eat Cod Tongues in Newfoundland (and kept egging the waiter on about this)? Do I remember incorrectly?

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Anabel – I did have a minor anxiety attack when I found out that Jerry and his wife were planning on using my blog as a travel guide. I immediately emailed them and suggested one place in particular NOT to stay. I didn’t want to be disrespectful to a very kind priest who had allowed us to sleep in the Church attic. But I am sure that I did not shut my eyes all night. It was a bit spooky! ๐Ÿ˜€

      Liked by 1 person

  15. I’m not surprised at all that your postings of your Camino journeys have not only resonated with others, but have been – and will be – used as a reference for anyone planning a similar trip of their own. How nice that you received such a clear validation of your wonderful blog! The connections we make are the reason we keep writing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Leslie – I greatly appreciate your kind words. It was wonderful to have friends like you following our walk virtually. It was especially motivating on days that I was sure that I could not take one more step…or write one more post! ๐Ÿ˜€

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  16. Oh my goodness, Donna! Goosebumps! You do make a difference often when you least expect it. I hear about the concept of receiving, listening and paying attention to messages from Universe. You just received a clear message. Keep on writing, blogging and sharing.

    And Donna, your words, your kindness, in this blogging community and in real life has enriched my life in more ways than you may realize.๐Ÿ’•

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I had coffee with a new friend today and one of my topics was how to make friends and influence people with blogging. I sent her my teaching English blog as she is also an ESL teacher. I should also send her your blog to expand your ever expanding network!!!! ๐Ÿ˜Š

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Isn’t it wonderful when your blog makes a difference in someone else’s life Donna? I’ve had a several emails and FB messages over the years from women who have been walking a similar path to me – and even a couple of IRL friends who contacted me. When they tell me that my posts inspire or encourage them it just makes my day. I think we send stuff out into the ether and hopefully it’s found by a like minded soul or two – and I’m often surprised by which posts resonate with others (it’s never the ones I expect will!) So glad you helped some fellow travellers xx

    Liked by 1 person

  18. This is so lovely Donna, it brought a smile for me. I remember your blogging on Camino, the lovely walks and discussions, the way you engaged your readers so well, that it felt as I was alongside you. Youโ€™ve done similarly with other hikes and gorgeous photos that bring it even more alive! You bring the sacred into the mundane and this is your gift. Thank you.

    Thereโ€™s nothing more wonderful in receiving affirmation from the outside world. Itโ€™s happened to me a few times and Iโ€™m always grateful. Have a lovely weekend!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. That’s amazing! I adored reading your updates on your walk so it’s no wonder that they struck a chord with someone else too. The blogging world feels so solitary, yet at the same time it’s also so small.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. I love the opening photo and yes, we may never know how we influence others until we receive a serendipitous gesture from the universe such as the letter from Jerry and Salie!

    And Donna, your words always have purpose and kindness but itโ€™s a good reminder to be mindful of what we put out there! I wish to live a life where I try to leave the world a better place than I found it *no matter what others decide to do.* I always love getting feedback from readers and when itโ€™s a stranger from the other side of the globe, I am touched beyond measure.

    And truth be told, I might not have kept blogging had it not been for the talk we had that day in the Sun City Daily Grind! So perhaps your influence extends a net far wider than you think ๐Ÿ˜€๐ŸŒŒ๐Ÿ˜€

    Susan Grace

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  21. I love the opening photo and yes, we may never know how we influence others until we receive a serendipitous gesture from the universe such as the letter from Jerry and Salie!

    And Donna, your words always have purpose and kindness but itโ€™s a good reminder to be mindful of what we put out there! I wish to live a life where I try to leave the world a better place than I found it *no matter what others decide to do.* I always love getting feedback from readers and when itโ€™s a stranger from the other side of the globe, I am touched beyond measure.

    And truth be told, I might not have kept blogging had it not been for the talk we had that day in the Sun City Daily Grind! So perhaps your influence extends a net far wider than you think ๐Ÿ˜€๐ŸŒŒ๐Ÿ˜€

    Susan Grace

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  22. “I wish to live a life where I try to leave the world a better place than I found it no matter what others decide to do.”
    This is so powerful, Susan. What better motto could there be to live by?
    Thank you for letting me know about my impact on your blogging. I am deeply touched. I will hold on to this thought when I myself am struggling with blogging (and many other things).

    Liked by 1 person

  23. This sums it up for me Donna, ‘This was an excellent reminder for me to fill my words with purpose and kindness. And to keep on blogging.’ I am so glad you took this away from the lovely email you were sent, it reaffirms our faith in human nature when this sort of contact is made out of the blue. Well deserved and I too love reading your words ๐Ÿ™‚

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  24. Oh Donna! What a wonderful email to receive. Such proof of what you do really matters. Being an inspiration to others! That is the exact goal I hope to achieve with my blog posts, with the added bonus of making connections with other bloggers and like-minded readers. And, to meet people like you is the icing on the cake. A heart-warming post and reminder that what we do can – and hopefully does – affect others positively. Big smile here mimicking yours!

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  25. What a lovely letter! It always surprises me when I learn about the “silent readers”. I know the folks who regularly comment, but often wonder about others…. do all the folks that wordpress says I have as followers really read my posts? Once in awhile I learn about someone who’s been reading along and I didn’t know it…often when they do make a comment for the first time. It always makes me smile… to know that yeah, there are people out there and sometimes I do make an impact. And you, you definitely make an impact.

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  26. What an awesome email! For some reason I’m not getting notices that you’ve published a new post. Thought you were still on a break from blogging but decided to hop over here when you commented on my last post. Looks like you’ve been posting a lot that I’ve missed.

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      1. Yes, I went over and looked and I was no longer subscribed, problem solved. Don’t know how that happened, anyway I’m back in the loop ๐Ÿ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

  27. How wonderful! I must admit, I don’t really wonder if my stories are “caught” out there, though I suppose I should. First, so many wonderful bloggers not only “like” our posts, but they also comment, so we know that in some ways, our words are meaningful. But also I’m surprised when I see friends who I haven’t been around for a long time (usually because they live in another state, or because they’re traveling or just super busy) and suddenly I get an e-mail saying “wow, your story really affected me.” They have NO IDEA how much this thrills me. I also want to applaud Jerry and Salie for taking the effort to write and let “Donna” know how much they appreciate her (your) posts! ๐Ÿ™‚
    Lastly, keep on doing what you do, Donna. I certainly LOVE reading your posts.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Hi Donna – that’s amazing isn’t it … and a delight. We never know who our words reach … we definitely get some inkling from our blogging friends – who often comment (some belatedly – like me) … but we know they’re there. It’s so interesting the way we seem to understand each other – even though only the written word, some photos and an occasional personal remark seem to link us together.

    Your articled recording of your Camino Francigena was just amazing a delight to read with accompanying very beautiful photos … congratulations and how lovely of Jerry and Salie to be in touch …

    Cheers – so pleased I got here eventually! All the best in these difficult times … Hilary

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  29. What a wonderful acknowledgement of the worth of your blogging. Truly, our words really do make a difference and honestly, we just never know who theyโ€™ll touch. Stay well and happy my friend. ๐Ÿ™

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  30. I hear you. We made a similar connection recently. A fellow mariner facing cancer treatment had heard of our ‘sailing with cancer’ experiences through the blogging community. He and his wife reached out to us to navigate these troubled waters together. I am happy to report that he completed his treatment in early March, and his physician has positive expectations for clean scans in April.

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  31. Donna how wonderful that your Camino posts have provided such a wonderful roadmap for others, and that Jerry and Salie went to the effort to find you and communicate with you. In the early days of my blogging (back in 2008) I doubt that my posts were read by anybody at all. Sometimes I really wondered if there was anyone out there. Now I am often surprised by โ€œsilent readers,โ€ especially people IRL whom I donโ€™t see often. When we do get together, they launch right into chatting about something like a trip I went on, and I think, oh, how did they know about that? Then, oh yeah, I blogged about it. Just recently I had a phone call from someone who read my post about reflecting on the pandemic. He said heโ€™d been on the fence about following the social distancing public health orders but decided to do so after reading my post.

    TTYS

    Jude

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    1. Hi, Jude – This is ultra-cool that your post about the pandemic helped a reader decide to follow social-distancing practices. This is a great reminder of the power of the written word. (Even when we don’t realize that people are reading or taking it in). ๐Ÿ˜€

      Like

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