An Olympic Quest Powered by Plants with Sarah Bofinger: PYP 271

Sarah “Mergoddess” Bofinger swam before she walked – literally. Born with hip dysplasia (I thought the same thing: “Isn't that something Golden Retrievers get?”), she required six surgeries before she celebrated her fourth birthday.

Sarah was put in the water for therapy and rehabilitation, and took to it like a, well, mergoddess to water. Swimming, as well as dancing and gymnastics, helped take her mind of the discomfort and pain of the constant hip problems.

A seventh surgery at age 15, which cut the bone and added pins, proved especially painful. And the rehabilitation took much longer than before, taking Sarah out of her element and community. She became addicted to morphine, and following her discharge from the hospital, tylenol with codeine.

As she recovered physically and sank ever deeper into substance abuse, Sarah watched her Olympic dreams drifting away. After all, good female swimmers typically make the Olympics as teenagers. She felt sorry for herself, gave up, and used pills as the way out.

(Coincidentally, here's a 16-minute video echoing Sarah's that I found in The New York Times this week: The Pull. The protagonist got addicted to pain meds in his teens, and has been struggling with addiction ever since. It's heart-wrenching, and also includes profanity.)

Her rock bottom, and slow and unlikely redemption, is one of the most inspiring stories I've ever been privileged to share on this podcast. Spoiler alert for you plant-fans: Sarah went vegan 120 days before we spoke 🙂

We discussed:

  • “I literally swam before I walked” – water as therapy for congenital hip dysplasia
  • six surgeries prior to age three and a half
  • getting addicted to pain killers at age 15
  • relying on alcohol and pills to get through
  • bringing community into the quest
  • hitting rock bottom in 2015: relationship ended, no money, nowhere to go
  • forgiveness as a lever of growth
  • “we all have a superhero lying inside of us waiting to be unleashed”
  • the gift of 10 minutes of meditation a day
  • “there was no way I could ever be a vegan”
  • using Bikram yoga as a competitive advantage
  • “fear and excitement are the same feeling”
  • field report from 120 days vegan: diverting energy from digestion into training
  • and much more…

Enjoy, add your voice to the conversation via the comment box or audio recording box below, and please share – that's how we spread our message and spread our roots.

Talk Back

Links

Lisa Feldman Barrett on the Bregman Leadership Podcast

Sarah Bofinger on social media: @mergoddess11 on Instagram and Facebook, @mergoddess1 on Twitter

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Music

The Plant Yourself Podcast theme music, “Dance of Peace (Sabali Don),” is generously provided by Will Ridenour, a kora player from North Carolina who has trained with top Senegalese musicians.

It can be found on his first CD, titled Will Ridenour.

You can learn about Will, listen to more tracks, and buy music on his website, WillRidenour.com.

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