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“Turning Tragedies into Triumphs:  Stories & Conversations with Torah Bontrager” is a weekly podcast that features amazing and courageous individuals who have come forward to share their stories with the world.  The conversations between two fellow survivors take place over a virtual dining room table in a safe, judgment-free zone where we not only learn about accounts often never publicly disclosed before, but we also learn a little bit more about Torah along the way.

A companion show to her memoir An Amish Girl in Manhattan, Torah created the podcast to emphasize that trauma (of all colors, shapes, and sizes-- not only sexual) knows no boundaries and that her story of repeat sexual assault, abandonment, parental rejection, identity crises, disastrously failed romantic relationships and trust issues are heartbreakingly universal in our national and global cultures. 

Watch the episodes to be inspired and to know that you're not alone and that you don’t have to be extraordinary to be Extraordinary.  New episodes air each Wednesday. 

Please ask us questions and leave comments.  We will read all of them.  We want this to be an interactive show and build a strong community of support both online and offline.  Every four or five episodes, we will do a special "Question and Answer" segment where we pick from what's been submitted.  The more you comment/ask, the higher your chances of getting answered via the special. 

INVITATION CALL:  If you would like to share your story with the world, please contact us at  No story is insignificant.  The seemingly smallest things that happened to us as children can have a lifetime negative impact if left unaddressed.  This podcast and community is designed for you to feel safe, speak out in your own words and experience non-judgment and unconditional love from a human-hood of strong women, men and other/no-genders.

Mar 9, 2017

Fiona Teng, an activist and writer of “Fatherlessness: The Presence of Dad’s Absence” on The Huffington Post goes in-depth on the challenges of working on one’s traumas and how mindfulness meditation has changed her life.  “Mindfulness opens up a space in the conscious mind to let the subconscious stuff come up,” she says.  The subconscious stuff are the traumas, PTSD and other things we try to avoid or repress or really don’t want to deal with.  One of Fiona’s biggest motivators to continue working on herself and grow personally is to break the cycles of personal and societal traumas such as abandonment, racism, and sexism, etc. and to create healthier romantic relationships.  

Fiona also answers Torah’s set of questions that she asks every guest on the show: 

  • In one sentence, why did you leave the Amish, your community or situation?
  • What were some of the challenges you faced navigating a foreign culture?
  • What is your guiding principal in life?
  • What is your understanding of forgiveness?
  • What is your definition of acceptance?
  • Why do bad things happen to good people?
  • Is there a God?


  • Why it feels that things get worse—instead of better—when you first start therapy or personal growth work
  • How meditation helped Torah deal with waiting in line at Starbucks
  • The only one thing anyone needs to do to break the cycle of trauma and make a positive impact on the world
  • The freedom that self-worth and self-love give you
  • The real reason why Torah wrote her memoir


  1. Fiona’s writing: 
  2. Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches by Audre Lorde, a writer poet who explored trauma, racism, sexism and homophobia in beautiful poetic ways and refused to be silenced:
  3. Mindfulness Training in 10 Minutes a Day with the Headspace App (Torah likes this site because it’s a good basic, scientific introduction to meditation for beginners): (free trial)
  4. See S1Ep2: Fiona Teng on Growing Up as an Immigrant in California, Fatherlessness, Abandonment and Romantic Relationships for Part 1 of Fiona’s story
  5. See S1Ep6: Sovilla and Lucinda Coblentz on Amish Interrogation Methods, Sleep Deprivation and the Innate Desire for Freedom for Lucinda and Sovilla’s insight on manipulation, brainwashing and stifled creativity in the Amish church