A few things I did last week that I have never done before in my life: I walked – and was photographed on – the red carpet at a Hollywood Gala; I attended a baby shower at the home of a Ugandan family living in California; I flew on an official “red eye,” leaving LAX after midnight and returning to Minneapolis just after 6 o’clock on Monday morning.

Something I did last week that I have done before – and, in fact, have been doing more and more of lately: I pinched myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming, then asked myself, “How in the world did I get here?”

The answer to that is: by praying a lot and being grateful for everything, by saying “yes” and jumping in even when I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into or how everything was going to turn out, and by looking at everything in life as one big adventure.

The red-carpet event was a Gala and Book Launch for “Fearless Women: Visions of a New World,” by LA Photographer Mary Ann Halpin. I was invited to be in her previous book, “Fearless Women, Fearless Wisdom,” which was published a few years ago. That book took on a life of its own and started what became a Fearless Women Movement. It also introduced me to my friend Tabitha, who is from Uganda and is now like a sister to me. And it launched the journey that led us to Uganda last October. While we were preparing for that trip, we learned about a place called Ki-Mombasa where girls as young as 15 or 16 were trapped in a life of prostitution, and we decided to visit them while we were in Uganda to see what we could do to change their environment and their lives.

That’s when I truly understood that being fearless doesn’t mean you’re never afraid. It means you never let that stop you.

Tabitha is one of the women in the new “Fearless Women” book, and we both traveled to LA for the Gala and Book Launch last weekend. We also both spoke at the event about Ki-Mombasa, which has touched the hearts of everyone in the “Fearless Women tribe.” A number of them have joined in and strengthened our dream and our vision of building a Miracle Village of Hope, Health, and Healing for the girls in Ki-Mombasa, and for their children.

Tabitha’s friend and business partner lives in LA, and we spent some time with him and his wife. They invited us to join them at a friend’s baby shower, which happened to be on the one night that we had some free time in between all the Fearless Women activities and events.

While we were there, I was reminded so much of the baby showers I attended when I still lived in Chicago, where my husband and I grew up. They were large family gatherings that often included four generations of mothers, grandmothers, aunts, sisters, cousins, daughters, nieces and friends.

Now, as then, the festivities included lots of food, plenty of laughter, baby-oriented party games, and everyone – including me – gushing over the glowing and beautiful mother-to-be. And now, as then, I enjoyed a feast of family dishes, even though they were very different from the ones I was familiar with.
The hypnotic hum of multiple background conversations was in a language I didn’t understand, but questions and comments directed to me were in English, and the hugs, handshakes, and warm welcome I received were of a universal language in which we all were fluent.

Our night flight back to Minneapolis was time spent catching a few hours of sleep before returning to life as I know it on a day-to-day basis. It was also a time for dreaming – of visiting new places and experiences, meeting new friends and opportunities, and embracing new adventures and challenges. And being fearless in pursuing them all.

The column “Find Your Buried Treasure” appears weekly in the Chanhassen (MN) Villager. This column was published on May 24, 2012.
© Betty Liedtke, 2012