This is me
I’m Jo Anne Walduck (pronouns she/they), in my late 30s, a Brit who’s lived in France for almost all my adult life, a trauma-informed business, life, and recovery coach, a cat lover, a woman in recovery, a writer, a dreamer, a napper. A storyteller and a delighter in the growth and healing that happens when we turn our nurturing energy inwards and let it overflow outwards, rather than focussing on everyone else and gasping for the dregs. A trans femme living with chronic illness and fatigue, a human navigating the waves of generational trauma, familial grief, and queer joy.
After a decade working in the education system in France, teaching the present perfect, conflict-competent communication, and international negotiation skills, drinking and smoking more and more to ‘cope with’ the stress brought on by needing to work more and more to pay for the increasing wine and cigarettes consumption … I hit burnout in 2018 and was lucky enough to be able to leave my teaching contracts and be supported by the French state while I got myself sorted and figured out what I wanted to do when I grew up. Yay socialism! Having grown and healed through some top-notch therapy for years, finding ways to navigate my anxiety, to connect with emotions and my body, the choice for my next act was between training as a psychologist or as a coach. For various reasons, I chose to train as a coach, following a 9-month course by Coaching Ways France, ending with an ICF-accredited PCC level professional and life coach certification in October 2019.
To give myself a bit of an energetic boost as I launched my practice in late October 2019, I decided to take a month off the booze. I ended up spending the month working on my sobriety, learning from and supporting others on their own journeys, spending hours talking with beings around the world about their hows and whys. At the end of the 28-day challenge, I extended it to 3 months and shortly after, to a full year, knowing that the initial month was a huge achievement, but was also only a gorgeous taster of some things to come – if only I’d known what was to come, I may have not made that decision, but I’m SO glad I did! What came in quick succession was quitting cigarettes, realising that I was ‘trans enough’ to explode my life, coming out, my dad getting diagnosed with a second cancer, pandemonium descending, getting sick in April 2020 and not getting consistently better since then, navigating various lockdowns and restrictions on my own, running the marathon of administratively transitioning as a foreign trans person in binary and bureaucracy-heavy France (in the middle of Brexit fallout and pandemia), the standard highs and lows of discovering life in sobriety, starting the recovery journey from disordered eating and diet culture, the heart-breaking end of various dear friendships, finding ways to have a relationship with my dad which honoured both his struggles and my authenticity, suddenly losing my stepdad, then my dad, while old family trauma came seeping out the walls … it has certainly been an action-packed first quarter of the decade.
Through all of the above, what has kept me on my path of recovery (never linear, never replicable, always heart-centred) has been community and connection. Queer community, trans community, spoonie community, yoga community, grief community, sober community, anti-diet community, neuro-spicy community. It’s been therapy and coaching and yoga and writing sessions and co-supervisions and long walks and talks with friends who get it. I had to (was able to) learn to recalibrate my ‘coping mechanisms’ for things which actually worked for me and didn’t compromise my values or my recovery. I’ve invested time, energy and money in courses and workshops, 1:1 coaching on boundaries, people-pleasing, trauma-informed therapy and coaching, and have completed training on recovery-specific coaching (hello, the Recovery Coach Academy) and a 30-hour Sober Curious Yoga Teacher Training (hi, the Mindful Life Practice). I’ve held space for others, and – crucially – I’ve allowed others to hold space for me, and allowed myself to take up that space. It truly takes a village – and sometimes we have to create the villages that don’t yet exist, we can’t find, or don’t have access to.