Try Something Once is Julie’s Key No 7. Julie’s decision to say “Why Not” changed her world. When we take a moment to notice our thinking in response to an invitation or new idea, we can make decisions that open up a world of opportunities for ourselves and others. Enjoy this entertaining – and oh-so-surprising episode. You could find elements of Julie’s story slightly shocking, or not culturally appropriate in your part of the world. The entire episode however is rich in insights for our own personal growth and leading others.
Cheering you on,
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Kerrie Phipps 0:00
Kerrie Phipps here Connecting With Confidence. And today I’m connecting again with Julie Woods as we continue this beautiful theme of Adapting to Extraordinary Change, not just a beautiful theme, but a really important theme. So welcome back, Julie.
Julie Woods 0:13
Thank you, Kerrie. lovely to be here again.
Kerrie Phipps 0:16
Ah, well, of course, I loved the last episode. I’ve loved every one of these episodes. And if you haven’t heard the last episode, which is about laughing at yourself, then please go back. Listen to that one. So, Julie, we’re unpacking your Keys to Adapting to Extraordinary Change, which is what we all relate to right now. And How To Make A Silver Lining, which is the book title – now when did you publish that book?
Julie Woods 0:48
Kerrie Phipps 0:49
2009 beautiful, and, and now you’ve just published, Why Not? And it has an intriguing subtitle, which we’ll come to as we go through this story, because today’s key number seven is Try Something Once. So, Julie, tell us about this. How did you come up with this learning this insight to try something once?
Julie Woods 1:12
We touched on this in our first podcast, Kerrie with Ask For Help, and was really came about from me being asked to go cross country skiing, saying no. Realising that I wasn’t going to make a very good blind person if I turned down opportunities that came my way. So I decided at that moment, I would say “why not?” to opportunities that did come along. And it was it’s been something that’s been very powerful for me in my life. A huge huge learning and has transformed the way I’ve done things and has created many amazing opportunities for me you talked about the byline of my book, Why Not? And that is what a blind woman said to do you want to referee a game of nude touch rugby, and more? Because I got asked to referee a game of new touch rugby back in 2004. And as you can imagine, the word “No” was there in my mind. But after having learned how to say why not I pushed aside the questions of “how does a blind woman referee a game of nude touch rugby” and “what will your mother say?” So just saying “why not?”. And I went out to the beach the next day where the game was to play and refereed my first game of nude touch rugby between the Nude Blacks and England, which is a precursor to all test matches here, Dunedin.
Kerrie Phipps 2:56
Wow, it was Yeah, I feel like we need to just pause for a moment and go “really” like Where? Where in the world do people play – touch rugby in the nude? Like is this is this a big thing? Is it a New Zealand thing or just a Dunedin thing?
Julie Woods 3:11
I think it’s a Dunedin thing.
Kerrie Phipps 3:14
Okay, so local.
Julie Woods 3:15
Dunedin is a student city.
Kerrie Phipps 3:18
Julie Woods 3:18
So we have lots of kind of pranky things often like this that go on. And it was a community event that Ralph Davies a guy a local tourist operator put on to create some excitement around the rugby tests later that night. So the players were naked but for a hat head on their head, they got dressed in the “unchanging room” and they played touch rugby and I was the referee and I blew my whistle. We had a fully clothed streaker, who came onto the field but luckily there was policeman on duty that day who was wearing nothing but his helmet – he came on and arrested the fully clothed streaker. And as the game progressed, the crowd started to boo. And you know, as I blew the whistle against the nude blacks, they didn’t like my calls. So they would start calling out BOOOO! What are you blind or something ref?
Kerrie Phipps 3:23
Wow, that’s a day that you definitely, you know, took that skill of being able to laugh at yourself that we discussed in the last episode.
Julie Woods 4:32
Well that’s right. But I think the big thing is Kerrie is that we get stuck in the how, on the how. And how am I going to do that?
I didn’t have to come up with all the solutions. As soon as I got asked that question. I just had to say why not? And I just had to turn up. And the rest unfolded. Well, I got support and blowing the whistle, making the right calls. But when you’re playing a game like that, It’s all about theatre. So there really are no wrong calls anyway.
Kerrie Phipps 5:03
Julie Woods 5:04
And it was a huge amount of fun. So, just so pleased that I could park my “No” and say “why not – try it once”. If I didn’t like it. I didn’t have to do it again. But in this case, I actually referred two more games in 2011 and 2014.
Kerrie Phipps 5:24
Wow, you know, Julie, I think if the question was asked of me, I might say, if I was going to adopt your philosophy and say why not, I would say – and can I please be blindfolded?
Julie Woods 5:38
I quite well. That’s right. It’s not all bad is it?!
Kerrie Phipps 5:44
Okay, so there’s probably some… so yeah, so if anyone is completely mystified by that whole story, please just um, get curious about New Zealand culture and and humor. So I think that’s that’s really cool. You know, and I think I know of skydivers doing nude skydiving, they don’t all do it again, because some have landed to have somebody throw a bucket of ice at them. So, you know, I think people just try these things. So, so moving on from specific New Zealand culture… maybe there’s some other cultural things that you can certainly enlighten us on. But Julie, I guess some things that you’ve said “why not” to and had a go, tried and something once. Some things would be just little, and some things will be big some things, would be just a one off thing and some things might have become part of your life. So do want to talk us through some of those contrasts. What are some of the big or little things?
Julie Woods 6:48
Yes, so saying “why not” can start with something really small Kerrie like, “do you want to go walking at the weekend”, which is something I said “why not” to when I went blind that lead on to “Do you want to do the 10km walk at the Masters games?”, which led on to “Do you want to walk a half marathon?” which lead on to “Do you want to walk your 10th half marathon?”
Kerrie Phipps 7:15
So you’ve done 10 now?
Julie Woods 7:16
Yeah, done 10.
Kerrie Phipps 7:18
Julie Woods 7:19
So they can start off as quite small questions, but they help create the habit. And it’s the habit that helps us get over the line. We just keep doing it and doing it and doing it and then all of a sudden, we’ve walked 10km and we’ve walked to half marathon, and we’ve walked 10 half marathons.
Kerrie Phipps 7:41
hmm yeah, that’s amazing. So some things, yeah. So it’s not just the marathons is it? I guess it would be fitness. How do you feel when you’re
Julie Woods 7:52
Yeah, great. The fittest I’ve ever been in my whole life, and it took going blind…
Kerrie Phipps 7:58
Julie Woods 7:59
To help me get fit. So these are opportunities once again, that come along from from nowhere really. One of the best things I’ve seen “Why not” is “Do you want to learn Braille?” Yeah. For the reason that at the time I said, “why not?” I was a single blind parent. Boys were now seven and five. We were on our own the three of us. And I was tired of the negativity that had surrounded my life up until that moment, and I wanted to do something positive. Saying “why not” to “Do you want to learn Braille?”, gave me the opportunity to learn something new and to stretch myself. And it gave me a goal. That became my new goal Kerrie. Yeah, which was to learn to read with my fingers. That was really exciting. And I fell in love with Braille. I went on to sit and pass my Braille proficiency certificate, worked at the Blind Foundation as their Braille awareness consultant, then went on to go to Paris for Louie Brailles 200th birthday. And of course now I have my dream to write 1 million names in Braille. That one question of “Do you want to learn Braille?” has led on to that whole progression of me now writing 1 million names in Braille.
Kerrie Phipps 9:25
And that’s a progression as you shared that I just went goose bumped from head to foot. You know, that’s, it’s really quite incredible. The doors that can open the opportunities that open up when you decide to try something,
Julie Woods 9:38
And you don’t know until you try it, you learn from doing. I always remember my eldest son Zach coming to me and saying, “I’m thinking of doing Mandarin, Philosophy and Maths at university mum, what do you think?” Well, and I’m thinking well, the Maths might be useful. I didn’t say that. I said, “try Zach, the only way you’re going to find out is by doing the courses.” And of course, he dropped out of the Math.
Kerrie Phipps 10:15
Julie Woods 10:15
And absolutely fell in love with the Mandarin and the Philosophy.
Kerrie Phipps 10:21
Julie Woods 10:22
So few things there – “what do I know as mother?” But secondly, and more importantly that you learn by doing and that’s what the “why not” thing is all about you trying something once.
Kerrie Phipps 10:37
Yeah so you’ve not only helped yourself in moving forward but I’m sure Zach’s not the only one who would say that you helped them think things through and yeah had a go at things that now could have completely changed their story.
Julie Woods 10:53
Always wanted them to be the author of their own life Kerrie and not me – so I hope that because, sometimes it’s easy as a parent to think things and to express your opinion, but I don’t always think that’s wise. I think it’s good for them to follow their own heart and their own ambitions.
Kerrie Phipps 11:19
You know, something that I was thinking about as you were sharing was, you know that when you’re saying, you know, “why not”, and you’re trying something once. There’s a sense of being unattached to the outcome, because you’re trying to see if you like it, but that also comes up when you’re helping other people think things through – you’re unattached to the outcome of that, what’s Zach going to do? Which can be a challenging thing for a parent – to just say, “why not – you know, darling if that’s what you’re thinking of doing? Why not give that a go?”
Julie Woods 11:50
Yes, it is hard. It was hard Kerrie actually and as I say, it’s his life, not mine. And I just like to think that he had the freedom to be able to do and be what he wanted to be. But you’re right. And I think that attachment to the outcome is often the reason why we say no.
Kerrie Phipps 12:10
Julie Woods 12:11
We think that we aren’t going to be able to do it, or we’re not going to like it – or it’s going to really suck. But we don’t know that – that’s just what we think in our hearts and our minds in that split second moment when we’re asked these things. And notice that next time someone asks you something, and just notice that thoughts flicker into your mind and there can be two or three of them. You know, that will come will come before you potentially say either No, or why not? It’s quite astonishing. I’ve noticed myself, in all these years now, I notice when somebody asked me something, the thoughts that flood into my mind, and then I catch myself when I just say why not?
Kerrie Phipps 12:55
Yeah, that’s powerful, because I’ll put that in the show notes, too. To remind all of us to take a moment to notice. Because we start imagining what it’s going to look like. And we make assumptions. So can you think of a time where, yeah, maybe things turned out so much better than you thought when you just went? Okay, why not? Maybe you’re hesitant and just tried something new?
Julie Woods 13:24
Well I’m thinking about travel now, when Ron asked me if I wanted to go to Egypt, and I thought Egypt? Imagine me in Egypt! Isn’t it really dangerous? And, you know, something might happen to me. And I pushed that aside, and I said, “why not?” And went to Egypt and absolutely fell in love with Egypt. And of course, on that trip, we then went on to go to Jordan and visit Petra, which is one of the new wonders of the world. When we came home. We thought Oh, what are the other six? So we set ourselves a goal of visiting the seven wonders of the world, which we did and completed in 2014. But it all started with that “Do you want to go to Egypt?” If I’d said no to that, then I wouldn’t have gone to, onto Jordan and then to visit those other wonders as well. So they can be very important moments.
Kerrie Phipps 14:28
Yeah, yeah. It can be a very tiny moment, that moment of decision.
Julie Woods 14:34
Kerrie Phipps 14:35
I mean, he might have come back and asked you again, but sometimes, you might not get the question again – the opportunity again.
Julie Woods 14:42
No, absolutely. I’ve never been asked to go cross country skiing again. It’s never come along again. So they can be once in a lifetime moments that don’t come back. So that’s why it’s really important to to not let fear stop you from doing these things because it’s very easy for fear to slip into your thought patterns.
Kerrie Phipps 15:09
Yeah, so when that does, what are some of the questions that we can ask ourselves?
Julie Woods 15:16
Is that fact or fiction?
Kerrie Phipps 15:19
That’s a good one.
Julie Woods 15:20
How could I find out more about this?
Kerrie Phipps 15:25
Mmm. Yeah, that’s good.
Julie Woods 15:30
Yeah, there… kind of, do other people do it safely? Have other people done it before? What’s happened to the people that have done it before? What did they think?
Kerrie Phipps 15:43
Hmm. Yeah, you know, I was invited to do a bungee jump in New Zealand. And when I when I was first, well, we stood there and we watched people doing it. And I was just thinking through the, you know fears that people have expressed you know detached retinas and back issues and everything but as I watched you know, I saw what a gentle kind of bounce, I guess it was at the end – and it was the middle of winter and so I didn’t want to get wet but my brother-in-law was, was so excited that I was contemplating it – and coming from a family of skydivers also – bungee jumping was something that had just been you know, pushed aside. It’s like why would you do that you know, skydiving’s better value, you’re falling for longer – just all of these different reasons and yeah, so I just hadn’t contemplated it but as I stood there and I just took him in beautiful scenery and then my brother-in-law says like, “you know, you’ve really got to try it. I’ll pay half” and it’s like, okay, who say no to a good sale or you know, a bargain – so that possibly bought up my “Why not?” He certainly took away a barrier to doing it.
Julie Woods 17:02
Kerrie Phipps 17:03
But as I watched the videos, I watched it happening in front of me. And I talked to the staff and, you know, told them about, you know, my back was just really just tight from sitting in a dental in a dental chair, well, in the nurses chair, bending over all the time and getting tighter and tighter. But you know, it was actually so liberating. And, and I did it again, six months later when I was back in New Zealand. And it’s something that – yeah, I just would have not tried because of assumptions, because of the conversations of other people. And yeah, and I was really glad to have done that.
Julie Woods 17:38
And I can hand-on-heart say that the best moments in my life have been my “why not” moments.
Kerrie Phipps 17:48
That’s beautiful. And so can I just ask for a little sneak peek into the book? I mean, you’ve shared the the nude touch rugby game. Are there any other stories that you’d like to give us a little taste of?
Julie Woods 18:04
The, I’m thinking about the Christmas tree – the boys asking me “can we have a Christmas tree” so the year I became a single blind parent. “Can we have a Christmas tree mum?” – “Why not?” – the blind mother goes up to the local petrol station – where they’re selling Christmas trees – lofts one over my shoulder, carries it back with my white cane and goes about putting it up in the, in the dining room with the boys and Zach putting the bricks together and Sebastian telling us whether it’s straight or not. And it was just a lovely moment of togetherness and something that you could give up on because it’s just too hard. But I didn’t, because I did it for them. And together we did it. And it was just really lovely. And Sebastian used to answer the door. Sometimes if people would knock at the door, you’d run and answer the door, and he’d answer and he’d go, do you want to come in and see our tree? And I was just like, oh, that’s really cute. And to this day, he has an insatiable appetite for Christmas trees. He loves Christmas and he loves decorating the tree. So I’m just really glad that I parked my “No” that year.
Kerrie Phipps 19:46
Yeah, we really have no idea of the impact that we can have on people when we say “why not” to opportunities, you know, because, and I’m sure that people are driving past and seeing you walking with your cane. tree over your shoulder, you know, might just be inspired to have a go at something that they thought was too hard.
Julie Woods 20:08
yeah, that’s right. It’s easy too. That’s right. We’re all inspiring each other.
Kerrie Phipps 20:13
Yes. Often in ways that we just don’t see whether we have vision or not. We don’t see what other people see. And we don’t know what is significant to other people. So yeah, saying yes, and trying something once really can have a beautiful impact and you know, you’re building memories with your family there. And that’s, that’s really quite precious. And I think now is the time where people are spending more time with their families. And I think sometimes when when you get busy as a parent and you’re dealing with all these big things going on in the world, an ask from a child can feel like a little inconvenience or you don’t know the significance of it, but but by just being completely present to them for a moment and just going, “why not – let’s let’s do something silly.” And I wrote about that in Do Talk To Strangers – actually might have been in the chapter about choosing joy. But it actually was choosing silliness. Which I didn’t do silly. You know, I, I was just a bit to composed and kids are so good for us because they do help us to, you know, chill out and have fun and have some powerful insights. And so, yeah, Ethan had these lollies that are shaped like a mustache or like eyebrows or big lips. So we stuck those all over our faces. It was a road trip that we’re doing this the three of us and Lyndon was driving so he just safely put a mo’ on his on his top lip. And, and I, you know, had a few different pieces on my face. Ethan’s leaning forward from the backseat with his face done up with lollies and you know, I took a selfie and it was not until Later that Ethan was writing at school about, you know, his favourite holiday memory or something. And he wrote about that. And I just thought, wow, I’m so glad I didn’t crush that little idea because it was his favourite family memory. And I just went, Wow, sometimes we just need to say, “Okay, why not?”
Julie Woods 22:22
Kerrie Phipps 22:22
So, so seriously and again, listen to last episode if you missed that one, not taking ourselves too seriously. So thank you, Julie, for this encouragement to try something once.
Julie Woods 22:35
Well, my pleasure, Kerrie, and they really do – those “why not” moments to create great memories. So good luck, everybody. And we look forward to hearing their “Why not” stories don’t we Kerrie?
Kerrie Phipps 22:48
Yes, yeah, please share them on our social media. Send Julia message to her website.
Julie Woods 22:58
Julie at thatblindwoman.co.nz you can email me.
Kerrie Phipps 23:01
Yeah, I’ve got that in the show notes. So people, people will find you, Julie, I’m sending everybody your way. There’s much more inspiration on your site to find, and then we will move to our next episode about Telling Your Story. And, Julie, you’ve been telling your story wonderfully through these podcasts and through both of your books and the work that you’re doing. So I’m really looking forward to that too. So, so friends listening, I hope that you will join us for the next episode and please go back and check out the others if you haven’t heard them yet. Have a great day. Bye.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai
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