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The Star Community Newspaper

"That Blind Woman Launches Book" appeared in Julie's local newspaper on July 30, 2009 celebrating the launch of her book how to make a silver lining in the eye department of Dunedin Public Hospital.

that blind woman launches book!


by Brenda Harwood


Appearing in “The Star” free community newspaper for greater Dunedin, on Thursday 30 July, 2009.


Dunedin woman Julie Woods is known for her cheerful outlook and positive approach to life.


But things were not looking so bright on March 27, 1997, when Ms Woods found herself waiting in the eye department of Dunedin Public Hospital, fearful of the diagnosis that was to come. On that day, the mother of two small boys, then aged 3 and 1, was declared legally blind.


Twelve years later, she has returned to the eye department in triumph, launching her first book with a special function on Sunday afternoon. More than one hundred friends, supporters and sponsors took part in the event.


“I had some very difficult times in the eye department, waiting for my name to be called and dreading my results” Ms Woods said.


“So, returning there for such an exciting event has been great.”


Entitled How to Make a Silver Lining, 8 keys for adapting to extraordinary change, the book traces the challenges and triumphs of her first 10 years of blindness – culminating in her “10 years blind” party in 2007. Along the way it features amusing tales, such as being tricked by a local store owner and refereeing a game of nude touch rugby, and highlights the joy that characterises Ms Approach to life.


Self – styled as “that blind woman”, Ms Woods is a professional speaker and life coach, who has distilled the important life lessons she learned in those first 10 years of blindness into a book for everyone to enjoy.


“One of the first, and most important, things I    learned was to ask for help” she said.


She also had to re-learn basic skills to care for her family, such as making a cup of tea or buttering a piece of toast.


“I was frustrated at how slow those tasks became – it didn’t suit my rip, she*! And bust approach to life.”


“The one thing I absolutely didn’t want, was to be pitied”


Once she mastered domestic tasks – no mean feat in the kitchen – Ms Woods moved on to learning braille, using a keyboard, and mastering voice-generating software. This opened up a “whole new world” of information and lead to new life opportunities for her and her family.


“I think having independence is very important for everyone – blind or sighted”, she said  


“And it can be difficult for family and friends to allow the blind person to be independent, but it is absolutely vital.”


Ms Woods own family – partner Ron Esplin and sons Zac (15) and Sebastian (13) – have learned to cope along with her and are supportive without smothering.


“They are good at keeping things out of the way and returning them to the right place – especially in the kitchen.”


“And they always steer me away from danger.”


The philosophy of independence is behind the establishment of the cooking without looking trust, which will aim to get blind people into the kitchen. Still in it’s infancy, the trust will receive 10% of the proceeds from sales of the book – a donation made possible through the generous support of two major sponsors – Innovative Travel and RJ’s Licorice – along with 78 page sponsors, who helped pay for the books production.


Trust fund raising began on Sunday with the auctioning of Barry Forno of a painting by Ron Esplin for $360 and the first book off the press for $100.


Copies of Ms Woods’ book How to Make a Silver Lining – 8 keys for adapting to extraordinary change are available at University Book Shop.