Born in the “Edinburgh of the south,” Dunedin, New Zealand, (http://www.dunedinnz.com) Julie gained a Bachelor of Commerce degree from Otago University in 1987.
After returning home from overseas travel in the early 90’s, Julie discovered she was pregnant with her first son Zachary. 18 months after the birth of her second son Sebastian, Julie noticed the vinyl in her bathroom floor was shimmering. Already partially sighted she visited Dunedin Hospital where three months later, on March 27, 1997, she was declared legally blind. Faced with learning a host of adaptive skills, Julie got on with learning to live life as a blind person. “I felt I had two choices” says Julie, “I could either be pitied or admired and the first simply wasn’t an option to me”.It wasn’t too long before Julie faced her next life challenge when in June 2001 she became a single blind parent.”Fortunately I’d learned loads of independence skills during my rehabilitation which saw me better equipped to bring up the boys on my own.”
As one love left Julie’s life, another moved in, this time it was “braille” who stole Julie’s heart. “I wanted to do something positive in my life while all this negative stuff was happening” says Julie “and being removed from the written word was something I had found really difficult to see any good in so I decided to learn braille.” Julie fell in love with all that braille brought into her life, literacy, independence and creativity.
Julie’s learning paid off when in February 2003 she landed the job as the Blind Foundation’s Braille Literacy Co-ordinator, a position she held till November 2007. “There were loads of highlights of working at the Blind Foundation” remembers Julie; “one of them was the creation of braille biscuits used in the promotion of braille literacy” explains Julie.Each braille biscuit contains a letter of the braille alphabet and were often bearing words such as “congratulations” or “braille rocks”.
Another high point for Julie at the Blind Foundation was the “bling your cane” contest she organized as her birthday event at a national divisional conference in February 2007. Even though it was her birthday and she organized the event, there was no bias when it came to judging; Julie’s team were the winners fair and square! Their prize was of course the “bling cup” along with the prestigious inaugural national title.
In February 2006 Julie turned 40. Happy to kiss her 30’s goodbye, Julie celebrated her birthday by kicking up her heels and throwing an “ABBA toga” party where guests were encouraged to come wearing toga’s and dance to ABBA music. “ABBA was part of me, it’s the music I grew up with” says Julie “and well, toga’s that came with the territory of being an Otago University student”.This was not to be the last time ABBA would feature in Julies celebrations, they were a big part of her 10 and 15 years blind parties too.
When Julie had been blind for 15 years on 27 March, 2012, She sent out invitations to her “15 Years Blind 15 Minute Party” which were titled “Whats blind pink and happy?”. Julie dressed up as Agnetha from ABBA playing their hits on the melodica in the heart of Dunedin. Ever present at all of Julies celebrations were those truffles again, this time with a message in braille attached to each truffle saying “Thank You”. You can check ou the party on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ic48blO0Ex0.
In 2007 Julie trained to be a life coach through Results Coaching Systems, she now works as a professional speaker and coach under the brand “that blind woman.” She’s gone on to write her first book “How to Make a Silver Lining: 8 Keys for Adapting to Extraordinary Change” which she launched in the very place the book begins: the waiting room in the eye department at Dunedin Public Hospital. Julie now shares this story throughout the world as an inspirational speaker.
Grab your free audio version of Julie’s book from here:
FREE AUDIO BOOK!
Find out more about having Julie as your speaker here or text Julie on 021 913 513 putting “I’d love you to come and speak to us” in the message and Julie will ring you back to chat about inspiring your audience.
“What comes from books is knowledge,
what comes from the heart is wisdom.”
– Garth Brooks, American Country/Rock artist.