We recently connected with Mandy Bishop and have shared our conversation below.
Alright, Mandy thanks for taking the time to share your stories and insights with us today. We’d love to hear the backstory of how you established your own practice.
There was a time after completing my certification and training program where I considered “What’s next? Do I try to get a job as a nature-based coach somewhere? Or do I head out on my own?”
I had always worked for other folks previously, so the idea of building my own business felt really scary and intimidating. However, I kept feeling this nudge in that direction. I knew that the vision I had for the work I wanted to offer was not ordinary and wouldn’t fit into being another employee somewhere else.
So, I made a decision to give building my own practice a solid go.
Interestingly, as soon as I got clear in my heart which direction I intended to head towards, I was offered a small position mentoring students from the school I had just graduated from. This position wouldn’t pay much, but it gave me a lot of important experience, moral encouragement, and helped me build up my confidence stepping that much closer to my own practice.
Some other background–I also live/work on a farm, and additionally at the time was working as a barista at a busy coffee shop. So there I was, fresh out of school, already working two jobs, having just taken on a third, while also determined to build a practice. Sheesh! That first year was intense, to say the least.
But I always kept in my mind that takes time to build a business and the first couple years you might be putting in lots of hours while not yet seeing much return yet. For me, I knew that it was important that my business be built upon solid heart-felt relationships and authenticity. It’s very different than the capitalistic hustle. And this takes time.
Now, I’m just beginning my fourth year of my practice and am feeling really good in my work and my business.
Some of the main steps I took that were very helpful for me in hindsight were to focus on tending relationships with other therapists, coaches and healers in the area. We would talk about our work and how we might support each other, which was hugely helpful, not only for referrals but also to build a sense of community in a line of work that can feel quite isolating at times.
Another thing that was very beneficial for me was to figure out what I could freely offer my community, without trying to secretly “sell” anything to them. I chose to offer educational material (newsletter, blogs, videos) on what fills me up with passion and joy — the intersection of ancestral skills and healing from trauma. Offering these materials purely from a place of give-away and sharing what lights me up has helped in ways I wouldn’t have imagined. It gave folks a chance to get to know me at their own pace, it offered inspiration to others who maybe don’t want or need to buy anything, and it helped me maintain direction and inspiration with my work no matter what.
If I were to offer advice to a young professional just starting out, I would say: hang in there through the ebbs and flows of the first few years, find and nurture relationships that feel supportive to you, identify the values you have for your business and try to align all your actions with those values, and let whatever lights you up and inspires you to reach and touch your community in some way that gives back freely.
Great, appreciate you sharing that with us. Before we ask you to share more of your insights, can you take a moment to introduce yourself and how you got to where you are today to our readers
Hello! I’m Mandy. I’m a nature-based trauma coach, guide, folk herbalist, farmer and artist. I’m also the founder of Old Ways Wisdom–a place to bridge the gap of disconnect in these times by rekindling the old ways and fostering relationship with the land, our bodies, and the wisdom in our bones. I guide folks in healing from trauma by working somatically with the body, working with ceremony and story, and getting hands-on with ancestral earth-based skills.
Unresolved trauma is like a disease of disconnection, and at this point in time I believe we all have trauma stored in our bodies either from our own lived experience or inherited from our lineage. By it’s very nature, trauma leaves us feeling fragmented, disconnected, isolated and alone. And we are all downstream of this in some form or another at this point in being human. Trauma, as Dr. Peter Levine says, is not the event itself, but rather what gets stored in our bodies in response to the overwhelm of the event. We could imagine this expands epigenetically to what has been stored and left unresolved in the bodies of our ancestors as well.
So healing from traumatic experiences, unresolved painful experiences, or inter-generational or cultural trauma involves coming back into connection. This includes much more than coming back into connection with other people. It also includes coming back into connection with our relationship to the wider world of which we are a part–with the land where we dwell, with the original inhabitants of that land, with the land where our ancestor’s bones rest, with our animal bodies and the ways our bodies communicate with us, and with the innate wisdom and gifts that lay beneath the challenges we’ve endured.
I helps folks dealing with trauma and grief to reconnect with the old ways in order to deeply heal and move forward in an intact way.
How’d I get here? It’s a long story, one much bigger than me. But one snippet of it, and the part that catalyzed a big change in direction and purpose in my life, is surviving a high level spinal cord injury and head injury that had left me temporarily paralyzed from the neck down in 2013. This experience led me down a path of healing and recognizing the critical layer of emotional and spiritual recovery from the challenging experiences life can bring us. It led me deep into my own apprenticeship with the mystery of the bigger story that is wanting to be lived out by me. That bigger story has had me question, quest and apprentice myself to the wisdom of nature and my ancestors in order to guide me through the dark places and the healing that wants to happen for me and my lineage.
And, it feels part of my purpose to help others through that passage of healing and discovery as well. So, Old Ways Wisdom is about being in service to the remembrance of our wild selves; to a partnership between nature, ancestral wisdom and soul; and to the wisdom carried in our bones waking us up to what is most important in our lives.
We’d love to hear a story of resilience from your journey.
In late 2020 / early 2021, I was having a challenging time in my business. It is the nature of supporting people via private practice that your client load will ebb and flow, so to some degree I’ve learned to ride the waves. However, not only was I in an ebb with a small client load, I felt like I was trying harder than ever to figure out how to bring in more people.
This kind of “figuring out” feeling is familiar to me. I have struggled, like many of the people I work with, with spending most of my life in survival mode and working as hard as I can muster in order to make ends meet. So, naturally I was defaulting back to that state within my business. And it wasn’t working. It felt like the harder I tried to make things work, the less work I had coming through the door. But I’m not someone who gives up easily, so I kept trying to push and figure it out. It felt like I left no stone unturned.
I wound up feeling so exhausted and even defeated that I remember hitting a point where I reached out to Spirit / the Universe. I put my hands up and said “I surrender. I have really tried and I am willing to ask for your help. If this is my work to do, please show me the way. If this is not my work to do, I am willing to listen and go where you guide me.”
Like I said, I’m not one to let down easily so getting to this point of real surrender was quite new for me. I really was willing to go wherever I was guided trusting that I want to be doing the work that I am truly meant to do. I waited and listened.
That week I got a new client. The following week I got two more. Honestly, for the following 6 months I completely put down trying to build my business and I focused only on the relationship right in front of me. I continued to surrender and watch what happened and the Universe kept bringing me people.
I trust now that I am collaborating and sort of co-piloting my work with the help and guidance of Spirit. I still get caught in try-super-hard-figure-it-out mode, but I’m learning that I and my business have much greater resilience and efficacy when it’s a collaborative affair.
Are there any books, videos or other content that you feel have meaningfully impacted your thinking?
Yes, this has been a steep learning curve! Not only do you need to learn and hone the craft of your business, you also have to learn entirely new skills of marketing, accounting, strategizing, etc. I have found Sarah Chappell’s Holistic Business Academy to be hugely helpful, especially for spiritual and creative entrepreneurs. It is a membership with lots of videos and other resources that help guide you through how to clarify and communicate your business to the world.
- Website: www.oldwayswisdom.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mandyvbishop/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mandy.bishop.77715