Sunday, May 20 , 2018, 11:57 pm | Fair 58º


Judy Foreman: Mindy Budgor, Maasai Warrior, Stops in Montecito for Book Signing

Her new memoir, 'Warrior Princess,' shares the story of her journey to become the first female Maasai Warrior

On a normally quiet Monday afternoon in Montecito with turkey and stuffing on most people’s minds, co-hostesses Kandy Luria Budgor, Lee Luria, Nancy Koppelman, Vicki Riskin and Anne Towbes brought together a group of more than 50 friends for a book signing and afternoon tea. The honored guest was Mindy Budgor, author of Warrior Princess who wrote a memoir that chronicled her journey to become the first female Maasai Warrior.

Human rights advocate Riskin, grandmother Leatrice Luria, Girls Inc. Executive Director Monica Spear, Teri Luria, Barbara Robbins, Arlyn Goldsby, Lynn Sprecher, Sally Enthoven, Sandy Nicholson, SBCC Foundation board president Madeleine Jacobson, Beverly Johnson, Michael and Nati Smith, Leila Sher, writer Susan Gulbranson, Robin Cerf and Dolly Granitelli were just some of the guests who came to hear the poised and articulate Budgor tell her story about her journey of personal transformation.

Budgor, a spirited and determined young woman, comes from a traditional Jewish background. Her father was born in a displacement camp and both his parents were Holocaust survivors. Her mom came from a privileged professional background. Both parents were expecting Budgor and her brother to follow a more traditional and professional career path.

Love her parents as she does, she had come to the realization that "the life she was living was not her own." She told the audience, “I connected with a nagging voice inside me which I knew existed since childhood to listen to my instincts and  follow my personal quest."

Becoming a warrior was important to her culturally, but the journey was instigated by what she needed to learn — that casting her own shadow mattered, not standing in the ones cast by her parents, her peers or their expectations of her. Even knowing the she could be put her in harm’s way, Budgor threw caution to the wind and channeled her own "die-hard desire to find her inner self.”

Her humorous firsthand description of her odyssey from a young entrepreneur living in Chicago awaiting acceptances from business school to deciding to take leap of faith and buy a one-way ticket to Kenya was entertaining and candid. Upon arriving in Africa, she met several members of the Maasai, a semi-nomadic tribe that led to her journey detailed in her first book published this year.

As part of her volunteer work in Maasai Mara, included building schools and hospitals, she found out that there were none or had there ever been a woman Maasai warrior. When Budgor asked the chief why, he responded, “Because women are not strong enough or brave enough to survive the rigors of surviving in the bush."

Warrior Princess
The cover of Warrior Princess by Mindy Budgor.

Feeling the stirrings of her own warrior princess miles from her family home in Santa Barbara and with the permission of tribal leaders, she began a three-month adventure in the bush to become the first female Maasai warrior in Loita, Kenya, and become part of her new tribal family.

Little did Budgor know that she would not only become the first female warrior but a trailblazer to change tribal law to allow women to become Maasai warriors. A Maasai warrior is the first line of defenders for a tribe when being attacked by lions, apes and elephants. They must become proficient in tracking, eating only what they hunt and using spears and swords.

It is a fun and inspiring tale of Budgor’s experiences far from indoor plumbing, nail salons and electricity, and one that often involved life-threatening interactions with the "beasts of the wild." An informative and lively Q&A was held followed by a book signing.

Warrior Princess can be found at Santa Barbara bookstores and on Budgor can be reached by email at [email protected]. Click here to connect with her on Facebook and Twitter @mindy_budgor.

— Judy Foreman is a Noozhawk columnist and longtime local writer and lifestyles observer. She can be contacted at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

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