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Always an adventure: Life and love with The Blind Woodsman

John and Anni Furniss have built a life of love, laughs and adventure together - and they're sharing it all in their book, The Blind Woodsman

Anni and her husband, John Furniss, the Blind Woodsman, hugging and smiling in a selfie-style photo

From the moment I met my husband John, also known as The Blind Woodsman in our online community, I knew I wanted to tell his story.

He is a gifted woodworker. He is an all-around good human. He is the type of person that leaves an impression with everyone he comes across. I jokingly call him an angel, though he laughs it off.

He has overcome unimaginable pain in his life, including a suicide attempt at age 16 that left him completely blind and without a sense of smell. He also almost lost his life to meth addiction and a life-threatening sinus infection that resulted in him getting a prosthetic carbon fiber forehead.

John’s life took a sharp turn when he started a woodworking class in his early 20s at a school for the blind. In a series of events that do not feel like a coincidence, he ended up in Vancouver, Washington, where he met me in 2012.

Sharing our story, following life’s breadcrumbs

We now share our life with millions of people online on TikTok, Instagram and Facebook. We like to “follow life’s bread crumbs,” soaking up the serendipitous moments that we feel brought us to where we are today.

One of those serendipitous moments was when the vice president of Fox Chapel Publishing reached out to us, wanting to publish John’s life story after he saw a video of him on Instagram.

Years earlier, on an anniversary trip to the Oregon coast, the dream of writing a book was sparked as we sat talking about our future over a cup of coffee in a sweet little coffee shop.

We knew after that first meeting with Fox Chapel that our lives were about to change once again. It just felt right.

“I am his eyes and he is my legs”: love, laughs and interdependence

When I started writing this book about my life with my husband, I had been stuck in bed for a week. Needless to say, I was getting very bored. My genetic connective tissue disorder often causes dislocations and injuries from doing the simplest tasks.

A week earlier, I experienced a neck injury that set me back in major ways, including my ability to walk. The injuries are one of many characteristics of the disorder which includes hypermobility and severe muscle spasticity.

John stepped up to the plate when I hurt myself, as he always does. He brought me my meals in bed and took over one of the jobs of our business, which is making social media videos. I gave him a quick tutorial, and the videos he made were out of frame, out of focus, and very charming. People on our social media platforms loved them.

We joke often that we trade places being impaired – he also has chronic health issues, like epilepsy.

He says I am his eyes and he is my legs, as some of my symptoms cause loss of mobility. It’s common for him to carry bags of groceries into our house, me limping slowly behind him with my cane. I call out obstacles in front of him so he doesn’t run into them.

“Always an adventure!” John likes to say after he breaks a mug, or after my injury of the week. There is never a boring moment in our home and humor has gotten us through some hard times. Times I might otherwise be crying.

Our story: The Blind Woodsman

In 2023, I spent countless hours writing our book.

Interviewing John for the book was a great bonding experience: I learned new things about him, something I didn’t know was possible after already knowing and loving him for 11 years.

In March 2024, we proudly released “The Blind Woodsman.” It’s available in audio, braille, Kindle and print at BlindWoodsmanBook.com.

About the authors

John and Anni Furniss are a married artist couple living in Southwest Washington with their dog, Pickle.

John is completely blind and has been a woodworker for almost twenty years. He is a suicide survivor who is passionate about sharing his story to help others. He can also often be found doing talks in local schools about mental health and blind awareness, with Anni by his side.

Anni has been a mixed media artist—including painting, photography, sculpting, and fiber arts—for almost thirty years. She uses art as therapy. She has a hypermobility condition, and she loves spreading awareness about using art as a tool to help mental and physical challenges. Anni worked at the Vancouver Community Library for fourteen years and spent many years volunteering to organize community events such as fundraisers and art shows.

Together, John and Anni have created an online community dedicated to mental health awareness, disability advocacy, and art that now has over two million followers. The Blind Woodsman is their first book together.

To learn more about John and Anni’s art, explore their website, FurnissStudios.com. To keep up with their adventures, follow them on TikTok, Instagram and Facebook. And for more insight into John’s story, read his previous #MyBlindStory post, The Blind Woodsman’s Creative Vision.

A tactile re-creation of a photograph of John Furniss, the Blind Woodsman, standing in front of his wife Anni with his hands gently placed on either side of her face.
A tactile, handmade wooden portrait of John and Anni Furniss by Nicole at Lady Wood Goods
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