To My Readers

Heart of Stone

I just realised this morning that Lives Less Ordinary has now been on the go for just over 6 months. I find this completely amazing because on one hand it feels like I’m barely beginning my blogging adventures, and on the other, it’s like it’s been around for longer. Since my first post on the 27th August, the blog has evolved fairly extensively. I’ve become a better photographer, a better writer, a better blogger. I feel a lot more comfortable about expressing myself with my own unique style, rather than trying to mimic more established bloggers. I’ve come to appreciate the natural beauty of my environment a lot more than I ever have, reigniting my love affair with Scotland.

But, perhaps the most important of all these good things that stem from beginning this blog, I have made some wonderful connections with those that come to read my words, to check out my photos and who feel moved to comment. My readers are quite easily the best thing about blogging here.

So, to say thank you properly to all you lovely people out there, I am offering a prize draw in exchange for some feedback. If you leave a comment on this post before midnight (your time) 11th March, telling me one or more of the following:

  • What you like about Lives Less Ordinary
  • Your favourite post of the last 6 months
  • What you think could be improved
  • What you would like to see more of
  • Or, any other kind of feedback you would like to give

All I ask is that your criticism is kind and constructive. Also, if you’re new to Lives Less Ordinary, please don’t feel that you can’t join in; why not share your first impressions?

In return for your feedback, I’m offering 3 bundles of Scottish/Lives Less Ordinary goodies which will be sent to 3 random commenters. Starting tomorrow, I will be adding one item per day to the bundle, so keep returning to see what’s been added. Any questions, please do not hesitate to ask, and please do feel free to spread the word.  Oh, and make sure you enter a valid email address when you comment – I may need to get in touch with you if you’re lucky enough to win one of the bundles.

Once again, thanks go out to everyone who’s been along for the ride.


March 4, 2008. Admin.


  1. Daz Cox replied:

    I like being surprised and inspired by this blog.

    I really don’t feel comfortable offering constructive criticism as I don’t want you to cater to me, I want you to write for you and trust that we will appreciate the content because we are of like minds!

  2. joker the lurcher replied:

    i love your photos and your positive spirit! it has been a tough period for us lately and reading your optimistic outlook on life has reminded me how to enjoy what is good about life and not dwell on the miserable stuff. thank you!

  3. Joanna Young replied:


    I’ve only been following your blog for about six weeks, though it seems like I have known you for much longer!

    What do I like about it?

    I love the way you blend photos and words in your posts. And the photos you take are just outstanding.

    I feel that you are sharing some of your world with us, generously and lovingly. Inviting us in, giving us a peek into things, asking us how things are, creating the space and the environment for us to join in, chat, enjoy a cup of tea with you!

    I don’t have any constructive criticism either, other than to say I’ve made it my mission to weed out any of your apologies for things you do or write! There’s no need for them at all because what you write, photograph, tweet and comment are all done with positive loving intention.

    Your blog in a short time is one of my must-read and must-visit sites. I am also very happy to have had the chance to get to know you in person 🙂

    I’m looking forward to following your blogging progress over the next six months and beyond


  4. mrschili replied:

    * What you like about Lives Less Ordinary

    What DON’T I like? Your photography is simply stunning, whether you’re photographing cows or castles or mud or headstones. You have a lovely way with words and your posts are often thought-provoking and insightful.

    * Your favourite post of the last 6 months

    I’m breaking the rules here and choosing two; the tribute to your mother and the post about genealogy. For as difficult as those posts have been for me personally, they’ve also inspired me to think and process and remember. While I may not have wanted to do those things, I think they’re necessary to my personal growth. You provided a nudge and inspiration for me as I make my way on my path, and I appreciate that.

    * What you think could be improved

    Look, I’m an English teacher; I know ALL about constructive criticism. I have to tell you, though, that I really can’t see anything that would be improved. As long as you’re happy and satisfied with the (excellent) work you’re doing here, then it’s perfect.

    * What you would like to see more of

    I am in love with the photojournalism of your home. I’ve mentioned it here several times; I feel a pull toward Scotland that I can’t explain in any way that makes sense. It will be some time before I’m able to get there, so I have to live vicariously through others in the meantime. I don’t think you need MORE pictures, but I certainly wouldn’t complain if you wrote a few “tour guide” posts.

    * Or, any other kind of feedback you would like to give

    I’d like to give you a bit of advice (especially in light of what I just said above). Please remember that blogging isn’t ABOUT what your readers want; blogging is about the WRITER. It’s an outlet for you; we’re just along for the ride. I know too many bloggers who alter their content or edit themselves because they don’t think what they have/want/need to say at a given time is anything their readers will care about. Please don’t do that; it’s disingenuous. This is YOUR space; we’re only visitors. As long as you keep being true to who you are and what you need to write, there will be people who will keep coming back. Don’t ever pander to your readership.

    Much love!


  5. This Eclectic Life replied:

    Hi Amy, Choosing one of your posts as a favorite is impossible, because you surprise me every time I visit. I agree with Joanna that I don’t want to influence what you have to say with any “constructive criticism.” Follow your heart. It’s done well for you so far.
    And, don’t worry about time spent mimicking other bloggers. A baby learns how to talk by repeating what it hears. As it grows, it learns to speak with its own voice. You’ve grown, baby (lol)

  6. Robert Hruzek replied:

    Amy, Scotland has always been a favorite place of mine, even though I’ve never been there. So for me, walking along with you as you discover hidden treasures throughout the countryside is a vicarious thrill I look forward to.

    Your photos along with your words combine to transport me there, even if it’s only in spirit. But maybe, one day…

    Thank you!

  7. On a Limb with Claudia replied:

    Oh, I wish my thoughts were so ordinary. Visiting your blog is like a breath of fresh air and a connection to a world so far from mine – and yet so similar.

    Hey, I just awarded you the Friendship award! 🙂

  8. diane replied:


    You have helped me to train my eye. Now, as I wander about with my digital camera, I try to be more aware of the play of shape and shadow. I attempt to narrow my focus and see the shapes and layers of color that I overlooked before.

    Your photos are evocative and rich. Thank you for sharing your vision.


  9. amypalko replied:

    Wow, what a fabulous response! I’m completely bowled over by your comments. Thank you to everyone so far who has left a comment; you will all be entered in the prize draw a week today.

    I think the main thing that’s come through in the feedback so far is that I need to have confidence in my own choices for what I include in this blog. I need to keep writing from my heart and continue sharing the photos you all seem to enjoy. Deep down it’s probably what I always knew, but to have it confirmed is truly empowering.

    Thanks again to all those who have participated so far, and if you haven’t left a comment yet, and you would like to be entered into the prize draw, you have until next Tuesday to leave a comment here.

  10. Joanna Young replied:

    I wonder if I stand more chance if I comment twice!

    Diane – Amy’s photos have changed the way I take pictures too, or at least the way I try to 🙂 I feel they’ve wakened up a sense of what’s possible.

    Robert – sure you’re not just here to try and win a haggis? 🙂 I hope you get to Scotland some day soon to enjoy the place & meet up with me and Amy


  11. karenswim replied:

    Amy, I am new to your blog and am so thankful that I found you. I love the honesty with which you write. Your photos speak volumes without words. I would change nothing! My favourite post? Well of course it’s the Love Affair with Writing post. 🙂 I felt like I was there with you and your words really captured the writer’s spirit. Thank you for sharing your talents with us.


  12. barbara replied:

    Amy. I love your photos of the places I will never see. Scotland calls to me through your photos.

    ANd then I really fell when you started posting my favorite old poems. The Owl and the Pussycat…how you capture memories for me is uncanny.

    And the genealogy post, again, hit my heart.

    I enjoy, keep going.

  13. Penelope Anne replied:

    What do I like? Everything!
    Your blog is inspirational, educational, and entertaining. You truly overwhelm me with the awesome photos your share and the insightful information you share. And you always bring the reader into the post. I may not always reply, but I am reading.

  14. hensteeth replied:

    I’m a Robert Burns fan, by the way. And William Carlos Williams. By my reaction to your pic, I’m guessing it’s the love poetry that gets to me the most.

    And that ties in to what I do enjoy most about your blog – it makes me think. Hard. Whether it’s one of your gorgeous pics that thoughtfully represents an idea, or a post that serves up a thought that generates my own contemplation.

    Thanks muchly, Amy.

  15. Rhonda replied:

    I like seeing a part of the world I may never enter. I think your photos are outstanding. Your words are just enough, not too wordy, a good fit with the photos. My favorite post in the past few weeks has been the Beautiful Pea Green Boat. I don’t know why but I really love that photo and the poem that day.

  16. Joanna Young replied:

    I hope you won’t ban me from your blog for persistent commenting!

    One small thing – monthly archive link might be useful, esp for exercises like this when we want to explore, or find something we remember from a particular time of year.


  17. wonderwebby replied:

    I have only just started following your blog. What I love about it is your unique view of the world. You seem to decorate your world with the words and images that you see and carry with you. Thank you for sharing your perspective, the way you see things and for sticking your head in the clouds sometimes 🙂

  18. amypalko replied:

    You can comment as many times as you like, Joanna. You are always welcome here!

    It makes me so happy to know that the photographs that I’m including on the blog are inspiring others to look at things differently, and to pick up their camera and start look at their environment anew. Just wonderful!

    The feedback that you are all so generously giving here, is so greatly appreciated. I can’t even tell you how encouraged I am, to know that Lives Less Ordinary is bringing such enjoyment to so many. You will all be entered into the prize draw next Wednesday, and I’ll be posting up another item for the prize draw bundle later today.

    Oh, and btw, don’t expect a haggis, as I’m not sending it through the post 😉

  19. diane replied:

    You should try some twitku/tiny poems!

  20. kacey replied:

    Wow, I found your blog from a link on This Eclectic Life…and am I ever glad I did. Your photos are wonderful! I browsed around, immediately added you to my daily blog hop feed reader, and feasted my eyes on your pics.

    I love the write up you have with your photos too!

    I need to go over and thank Eclectic life for providing the link!

  21. Drew Buddie replied:

    This Blog is such a cornocopia of delights that I feel compelled to tell everyone I know that they should come visit. The images are stunningly taken with such an eye for the subject matter that I have had to revisit my own photography. It’s an inspirational site and one that has quickly gained a special place in my Google Reader feed.

  22. lindiop replied:

    I think both your photographs and your writing share a lyrical quality. Your pictures and your words combine and each is stronger for it. You make a grey day in London brighter, and if, occasionally, you make me homesick, it’s worth it.
    Favourite post: was Love Affair with Writing 🙂
    Now it’s The Hidden Playpark. Stunning!
    One tiny constructive point. Your sidebar is a wee bit crowded.
    Thanks 🙂 I look forward to your posts in my feedreader.

  23. amypalko replied:

    Wow, I think that’s 17 entries so far. Thank you to everyone who has entered so far, and thank you also, so so much, for all your lovely words.

    Oh, and, Lindiop, I’ve been thinking that too. I need to decide what to keep and what to lose. Expect a change soon…

  24. Jenny in NZ replied:

    I have been reading your blog for a while now. I noticed your post about asking what people think of your blog. At the time I couldn’t think of what to say.

    This morning (reading your blog is one of my early morning pleasures) I’m greeted by your photos of the new playground. And I’m utterly entranced by the close up photos of the rope bridge, the stones. Further down the page is close up photos of the tartan scarves and I can SEE the fibres in the scarves and they make me FEEL warm! Your spring bulb photos this week make me think about the freshness of spring, even though it’s late summer/early autumn here in New Zealand. I now can’t wait for spring to find our spring bulbs and flowers to really enjoy their freshness. I also love the beautiful pea green boat you posted in the Owl and Pussycat poem.

    I had been told that Scotland was a drab, dark place. Your photos have shown me that Scotland is a land of remarkable contrasts, of beautiful coldness, incredible warmth, striking landscapes. You bring a special perspective to images of your homeland that I’ve not ever experienced before. I WANT to go there. I want to see these things for myself.

    I like the randomness of your blog, one never knows what you’ll talk about or the photos you’ll show us on that day’s entry, but I always know it’ll certainly be a wonderful reflection of your life. At times I feel like I was there, experiencing your observation with you.

    More of the same please. As for the format of the blog, your stories and photos are far more important than that to me 🙂

  25. AllanahK replied:

    You are about to be added to my aggregator as a blog to follow. Your photography is stunning- to see the richness in small things is wonderful.

    Allanah K


    New Zealand

  26. nengaku replied:

    I can’t believe I haven’t left a comment here yet!
    I LOVE your blog! It is one of only ten blogs that I ever read and I take a look at yours EVERY DAY. I’m never disappointed. Your photos are SUPER and really inspire me to open my eyes to my own surroundings.
    I couldn’t help notice, BTW, that there was no Cunningham tartan in your bag of prizes. What’s up with that? 🙂

  27. Joanna Young replied:

    I’ll comment here as you’ve disabled the comments on your other post (but I’d like you to rule me out of the comp as I’m already in Scotland and have access to many of your goodies)… but I just wanted to say thanks for resharing that post on origami cranes and those beautiful wishes.

    I didn’t know you were wishing those thoughts back in November, but I am very happy that at least one of them has since come true for me.

    What a generous soul you are Amy, thank you 🙂


  28. Kelly replied:

    Hi Amy!

    What a lovely and generous thing for you to do!

    Well, let’s see here. I love your blog for one. You always have something beautiful and thought-provoking to share. I haven’t witnessed any negativity, always positive thinking and living and I love that about your blog.

    Three posts ring out in my mind without going and searching for more favorites. The post about home educating children, which of course is a passion of mine. I loved that you share your children’s education with your readers. The post about writing letters and how it is a lost art. (By the way, I have written several since then!) And finally all your art work, but the one that stands out in memory was the “paths” pictures. Of the different paths you’ve seen. The gorgeous scenery and meaning even in God’s country was great.

    I have no real constructive feedback as to changes. I would love to see more photography. I love your creative writing as well.

    You’re doing a great job and congrats on truly affecting people’s lives through your words and art.

    Take care!

  29. Teacher Girl replied:

    Hey Amy!

    I have been visiting your blog for about three months and am now a subscriber. I love that you explore all manner of things in your own private universe; that’s what I’m doing in my own blog… exploring the world that I inhabit as a Candian teacher living in Barcelona.

    My favourite of your posts is “My Beautiful Pea Green Boat”… the photo and the poem “The Owl and the Pussycat” invited me to contemplate the favourite poems of my own childhood. I still remember the “Childrens’ Garden of Verse” given to me by my grandmother when I was four or five.

    With regards to helpful feedback, I have been doing a bit of reading about blogging recently and one tip I appreciated was the idea that in a traditional blog format, one should use only two or three photos in a posting.

    Blog on! Your words and photos make my days happier… and that is clearly true for many other readers. Congratulations on the success of your blog and on this creative way to stimulate discussion about it!

  30. amypalko replied:

    First off, I simply must say thank you to you all for taking the time to respond to my request for feedback so positively and enthusiastically. I truly am quite astonished by how much you all enjoy what I’m doing here, and I’m humbled to know that I’m making a small but tangible difference.

    There’s just one day left now to enter, and tomorrow I will be posting the last item to be included in the prize draw bundles. I hope you all like the look of what I’ve added so far! Oh, and make sure you come back on Wednesday to see the 3 lucky winners.

  31. Shai Coggins replied:

    It was a wonderful chance ‘bumping’ in to you via Twitter. And now, we’re connected in many ways (Flickr, Facebook, blogs… :-)).

    Anyway, I love your contest (with amazing prizes!). This is an incredible way to say thank you to your readers. And just at 6 months too. Wow!

    Looking forward to more from you.

  32. Nicola replied:

    Hey! I’m here via Twitter, via Shai and the latest 52 weeks project, I added your blog to my subscriptions and look forward to reading more and seeing your photos and finding out more about Scotland, I hope to head over that way myself in the next 12-18 months for a visit 🙂

  33. Megan replied:

    Well, I’ve been skulking about since I discovered your blog via Thursday Thirteen, and yours is one of the few non-litblogs that I continue to read and love. I love your photography and the way you have an eye for taking photos of ordinary things and making them… well…less ordinary! I’m also so impressed with your great attitude about life and often find myself a little bit happier and refreshed after having read your blog. I’m hard pressed to pick a favorite post, but I’ll say that the one that I remember the most is your Thursday Thirteen with the origami crane wishes. I guess I just found that one especially touching and… memorable!

    Congratulations on reaching six months! It’s been a great pleasure reading your blog (even though I tend to do it very quietly!) and I look forward to the next six months (and beyond)!

  34. Sandra replied:

    Hi! I came to your Blog via a link from Ewan McIntosh’s Blog. I went to a conference he presented at last year (fantastic Keynote) in New Zealand and have been reading Blogs ever since!
    Yours is totally awesome. I love the photography, I can’t believe you have only been doing it for a short time. You have inspired me to get out with my camera more as I love taking photos but don’t always have my camera with me. My favourite post is the one about “What is Love”, it really moved me.
    I started with reading your first page and couldn’t stop so have now read right back to when you started! You have really made me want to start a Blog of my own. So far I have been reading everyone else’s! Your love of Scotland also interests me. I have a Scottish background, my father played the bagpipes and we used to go to Ceilidhs when we were kids. I will certainly be adding your Blog to my list!

  35. Milan replied:

    These days I actually have almost physical need to visit your blog. I’m not sure how should I express myself to be more precise? Therefore I don’t think I have answer on question what I like about your blog. As I said I have NEED to come here, as if it’s sort of sanatorium (this must sounds completely silly!). And to be honest I’d prefer not to go in analysis of the emotion I’m finding here.

    I have to admit that somehow I don’t even read what you have wrote (blush) but instead I’m letting myself to be taken by those magnificent landscapes and images of micro-cosmos. A picture is worth a thousand words and especially when you’re not in the mood to read one single sentence anymore. (However I usually come back later and read what’s between the images)

    I can’t think of favourite post; I do have entire photo kaleidoscope in my mind: water till its very molecule and in each form, paths, woods, castles, trees, sky … I do remember very vividly one beautifully coloured boat.

    Interesting thing and that would be my eldest memory about your blog was the image of a tree with some black birds and gray sky. I think the text has something to do with park in NYC and I remembered that I thought that you live in USA. But I’m so glad I was wrong (hopefully I’m not offending some American reader)!

    Good luck and thank you for all what you share with us!

  36. captain stardust replied:

    i found you a few months ago on facebook while researching textual culture… but somehow i failed to make it to this particular blog until i spotted your twitter post about it.

    from today’s perusal it’s easy to come up with a list of wonderful things to say about your blogs. just from messaging you on facebook i was immediately struck by how friendly and welcoming you are; and the blogs are equally inviting. the style is comfortable and warm yet also beautifully refined. and the photo illustrations add a depth and richness that serves as a lovely counterpoint from the often perfunctory nature of most blogs.

    all in all, they’re a delight to read. i’m glad to have stumbled onto you. some day soon i hope to pick your brain about stirling, and the more i read, the less i worry about the imposition.

  37. Karen Wallace replied:

    Hi Amy,
    I just found your blog, thanks to Joanna. I have read a few posts, and am entranced and intrigued… enough to pop you into my feedreader. Your photos are beautiful, and I will be looking for a chunk of time to come and read further and to get to know you better.

    Having married a Wallace, and visited Scotland (including Edinburgh) way back in our second year of marriage, I have a definite longing to return. Your photos have the ability to increase the pull – looking at them it’s like my very bones are longing to set foot in your beautiful country again.

  38. Joanna Young replied:

    Oh Amy, tablet! And not just tablet, the right tablet! I might have to revisit my position 🙂

    I love popping here to read the comments of your readers – such inspiration, how our words and photos, sharing a bit of our world can bring us together like this. Fabulous.


  39. amypalko replied:

    Wow, what amazing readers I have, and what wonderful feedback you’ve all given me here. Thank you so much! It brings me enormous pleasure to know that my words and photos help in so many different ways, whether that’s to bring positivity into your day, help provide a bit of escapism or to encourage you to start your own blogs.

    The deadline for entries is tonight, and I’ll be drawing the 3 winners tomorrow. Good luck everyone!

  40. captainstardust replied:

    i don’t even know what tablet IS, but based on those photos, i know i want some! gonna go look it up now.

  41. Tarrant replied:

    I love highland cattle. They are cuties as my youngest would say. hmm…favorite post…pretty much any post where you use the word wee. I frequently use the word wee and am always delighted to see someone else use it. I also love the photographs and I generally don’t like photographs on blog posts, but yours are interesting, thoughtful and lead my mind to wander.

  42. Prize Draw - Scottish Tablet « Lives Less Ordinary replied:

    […] one of the 3 prize draw bundles, so if you haven’t done so already, head over to the post, To My Readers, and leave a comment giving feedback on my blog, before midnight (your time) tonight 11th March. I […]

  43. Kari replied:

    Wow looks like you are getting great feedback! I’m new here obviously since we just met 🙂 My first impression of your blog are all positive! I love the stone heart photo and your words spill out effortlessly. I don’t know much else about it yet, but will have to be sure to come back in the future to explore more!

  44. Mike replied:

    Hi Amy,

    I enjoy your blog because your view of the world is so fresh and positive. You have genuine wonder for the world around you, and you share that with your readers. Your photographs are fabulous, and your words are well crafted, moving, and thought provoking. Thank you for creating such a warm, inviting place to visit!

  45. AllanahK replied:

    At the moment I have a 3 in 44 chance of making the grade!

    Maybe if we don’t win your wonderful prize package you can give us the recipe for tablet via your blog.

    Allanah K

    ICT facilitator

    Discover IT Tasman


    New Zealand

  46. Graham replied:

    Dear Amy,

    I am sad that I didn’t see your quest until yesterday, which was way after the closing date (ooops!). However, I would still like to give you a little feedback on your blog. When I came across your blog a few months ago, I was immediately taken by the amazing photography and writings that are housed within. It is easy to see that you write from the heart.

    There are so many of your posts that are wonderful in their own little way – from the poetry to the photography to the magical moments. It would be unfair to single any specific one out.

    With regards to seeing more, I would simply like to say please carry with the same magic recipe that you have been using to date. The chance for us to see and read about such a wonderful part of the world is always a pleasure.

    Warm wishes ~ Graham 🙂

  47. This Eclectic Life » Thursday Thirteen Number Thirty-Eight. Potluck. replied:

    […] Less Ordinary goodies which will be sent to 3 random commenters.” Just go to her post called To My Readers to tell her what you think. And, while you are there, visit a little. I promise you won’t […]

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