Introducing Andrea Wood, Transformational Coach. As your dedicated guide to rediscovering a sense of awe in the world, Andrea builds programs that safely explore anxiety, stress, grief, overwhelm, and pain. This is her story. 

A Path to Reconnection

At some point in my late 20s I realized that I was grinding my teeth perpetually, day and night. I became so practised that the grinding broke one of my molars into two pieces. The dentist who repaired the tooth ground it down even further, which only left enough tooth for a crown to just barely stay put. That crown fell off annually, usually while I was enjoying some delicious, sticky food like a dried date or a fig. 

My cracked molar became a metaphor for my adult existence. I busted my ass perpetually, building the dreams of others. When I found something enjoyable, the joy was fleeting. All so I could maintain my lifestyle and keep the teeth in my mouth. (Dental coverage is a wonderful perk of corporate employment.)

It took me several failed startups, the breakup of my marriage and a move to a new city to find a dentist who permanently repaired that broken molar. That one person, fixing a persistent problem, made all the world of difference in my life. I could finally enjoy a sticky cinnamon roll without fearing the repercussions of a single joyous moment.

My Body Said NO

Joyous moments never seemed elusive prior to the start of my working life. 

Yet, my career as an Analyst refocused my energy and attention. I made decisions based entirely on data and statistical analysis, while I previously had been known for the emotional power of my musical performance and creative writing. 

It seems in the process of building a life around data, I managed to avoid my emotions. 

Adrenal Fatigue

Or so I thought. 

In reality, my emotions were desperately seeking my attention. My body was looking for novel ways to capture my attention. Unfortunately, I’d become so disconnected from myself that I didn’t know what to listen for. 

I lived with Irritable Bowel Syndrome, which I interpreted as a need to alter my diet. My training for skiing and triathlons was frequently hindered by exhaustion, which I interpreted as a terrible work ethic. My relationship with my in-laws was blighted by my insatiable need to sleep whenever they were present, which I interpreted as anti-social behaviour. My friendships were driven by the hedonistic quest for extravagance, which I interpreted as my utter failure to make bank (I struggled to keep up with my friend’s spending, even though I was highly paid). 

What I didn’t see was the connection between my ‘issues’ and my way of life. I was overextended. I was overstimulated. I was overtraining. I was existentially exhausted.

An Unusual Saving Grace

A  painful accident ended up being my biggest saving grace. 

In the winter of 2012, I broke both my arms. At the same damn time. 

During the course of my recovery, I made a number of unconventional treatment decisions. It was, afterall, a rather unconventional injury. To ease the very real physical pain of recovery, I sought out anything that might support the process of healing. Reiki, cranial sacral therapy, reflexology and acupuncture became normal parts of my recovery regimen. 

At the beginning of this process, I was shocked by the emotional fatigue I experienced after each session. After all, I wasn’t talking about emotions. It was physical work. But alas, emotions were bubbling into my awareness. 

To be quite frank: I was NOT impressed. I was looking for physical recovery – nothing more. After each therapeutic visit, I crossed my fingers and hoped to head home to live a normal life. Instead, I’d head home to exist in a state of emotional shell shock for several days. I felt like I was failing at healing. While I was meant to be resting and recovering, I spent my time battling my emotions.

 Then when my worldview shifted.

Starting Over: Befriending My Emotions

Wisdom Traditions Andrea Wood

As my capacity to move my arms increased and my physical pain decreased, my ability to sit with my emotions shifted. I noticed a new sense of emotional resiliency. I grew curious about the possibilities that lay outside the world as I knew it. I tried new, mindful forms of exercise (like pilates and qigong), took up meditation, and assessed my relationship with work. 

That process wasn’t all sunshine and roses. In that same period of time I learned to hold a lot of emotional pain: a client took legal action again

st my consulting business; my partner of 18 years suddenly broke up with me; I moved out of my dream home and moved in with my brother. 

With that, I literally started over with no job, no plans for the future, and no place to call home. 

It took me quite a while – we’re talking years – to realize what a blessing a fresh start offered. While I struggled with giving up the creature comforts I’d come to appreciate, the independence and freedom of solo living allowed me to grow. 

Planting the Seeds of Possibility

Shortly after landing in Ottawa, an incredible career opportunity presented itself: a start-up that would take me back to my roots. I was so excited to build a company that combined my adult skills with my childhood interests. The team was hard working and hard charging, which worked well for someone recovering from divorce. I rerouted my energy into building this company, looking at it as my retirement fund.

Within a year, I came to see that the process of befriending my emotions had changed my capacity to suppress distress. After our start-up achieved multimillion dollar funding from one of the most hated companies in the world, the founding team broke. Whatever the cause, I found the workplace environment untenable. 

In my bravest career move yet, I chose to trust my emotions. I gave up all my stake in the company – my retirement fund – and walked away. I prioritized the cultivation of personal peace and joy. 

A Journey Into Medicine Work

I left the start-up world with the sound of my co-founder’s words ringing in my ears:

“You are too sensitive. You need to grow a thicker skin to succeed in business.”

As I travelled through South America, Asia, Europe and North America to explore wisdom traditions and healing methods, I learned to embrace this ‘curse’ of sensitivity as a great gift. My natural capacity to attune to others was, and is, my key differentiator.

By the time I met Dr Gabor Mate, I was fairly confident I would never return to the business world in the same capacity that I’d left it. I didn’t know what I would do to stay afloat financially. I couldn’t stomach the idea of building someone else’s dream again. In a chance encounter at a packed dinner table, Dr Mate invited me to sit alongside him. He noticed that I withdrew from the boisterous conversation about careers, and he turned his attention to me.  After a deeply compassionate and memorable exchange, he suggested I’d been leveraging the right skills all along. I had just been focusing on the wrong outcome. 

That unexpected interaction on Vancouver Island refocused my perspective, and bolstered me to retrain as a Transformational Coach.

Transformational Coaching

Since that fateful afternoon, I’ve transitioned my career from Analyst to Coach.  The roles aren’t that different; I still leverage my natural powers of observation and analysis. I simply use that noticing to support my clients in fulfilling their objectives.

I’m slowly honing my skills to support the individuals and teams that employ me. Today, in the summer of 2021, my Transformational Coaching toolkit is built around the following approaches:

  • Polyvagal Theory: A biology-centred approach that provides tools for nervous system regulation. 
  • Compassionate Inquiry: An inquiry into sensations, symptoms, and stories about trauma. This approach transforms perspective and reconnects individuals with their internal wisdom. 
  • Internal Family Systems: This approach fosters an understanding of emotional events as unconscious “parts” of the self. 
  • Somatic Experiencing: A framework for understanding and addressing the physiology of trauma.
  • Psychedelic Integration Therapy: A combined psychotherapeutic and spiritual approach used to reconnect individuals with their inner guidance systems. 
  • Shamanic Counselling: Spiritual counselling based on the transcultural techniques of core shamanism.

 This path of Transformational Coaching requires a lifelong devotion to learning. Which is lucky for me; I’ve been obsessed with connecting the dots between concepts and ideas for as long as I can remember. 

AnAndrea Wood Transformational Coachdrea Wood. Transformational Coach.

I’m Andrea Wood, your guide to rediscovering a sense of awe and joy in a changeable world. 

I am devoted to building coaching programs and educational programs that safely explore anxiety, stress, grief, overwhelm, and pain. 

Programs increase emotional & physical awareness, and explore consciousness & spirituality. This approach is available in the workplace as one-on-one or group sessions.