Updated: Jul 14, 2019

After celebrating the release of My Random Death at the Tecolote Book Shop in Montecito on June 1st, I had a calling to go south to witness the border culture and to feel Trump's “wall”. In my memoir, I wrote about how horrific stories of the Holocaust accompanied my childhood bedtime reading. Now, more than 55-years later, I see history repeating itself and cannot be like those who stood by and did nothing while millions of Jews and others were corralled, starved, and ultimately exterminated. We must speak out. Never again means now.

California’s Governor Newsom is willing to face-off against Trump’s cruel immigration policies. So on my trip south, I did not see detained children but did experience those living and working at the San Ysidro and Otay Mesa border crossings into Mexico. These areas are economically intertwined in both countries. On the American side, international currency exchangers haggle in rundown shops situated next to modern-day shopping centers. All are minutes away for people passing through customs on foot and in cars. Steel rust colored fencing stretches for miles and miles and does not run in a straight line but twists and wraps around hills and valleys. I got up close to touch it. Cold. Even in the heat of the day.

Major construction is currently underway at San Ysidro to build a new pedestrian crossing. Perhaps it's to handle requests for political asylum more efficiently. Hopefully, fairly. Under the US Constitution due process rights are afforded to the citizen and non-citizen alike. The American Immigration Council states, “Asylum is a protection granted to foreign nationals already in the United States or at the border who meet the international law definition of a “refugee.” The United Nations 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocol define a refugee as a person who is unable or unwilling to return to his or her home country, and cannot obtain protection in that country, due to past persecution or a well-founded fear of being persecuted in the future on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. Congress incorporated this definition into U.S. immigration law in the Refugee Act of 1980". What was once considered only a misdemeanor offense, Trump and ‘his administration’ declared it a felony, making it illegal to touch US soil and seek political asylum except through known points of entry. Meanwhile he’s stymied proper procedural crossings and limited the grounds to petition our government for protection.

In the early ‘90s, I associated with a Los Angeles law firm that handled political asylum cases. Although our Immigration laws and regulations change from time to time, they usually adhere to the principle of fairness and humane treatment inherent in our jurisprudence. Ok, our practice and procedures evolve over time, and I became a federal criminal appeals attorney to ensure a defendant’s arrest, pre-trial detention, conviction and incarceration was just and fair under the law. Now, I’m overwhelmed by the living hell and hate inflicted on children, their separated families, and unaccompanied minors under the guise of Trump’s immigration policies. The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit just heard oral argument from administrative lawyers who argued it was not an ‘enumerated’ duty to provide soap, blankets and beds, or toothbrushes for kids detained at the Southern border facilities. Filth, overcrowded facilities, and fearful children with lack of proper medical care, is just fine for Trump and his supporters.

I express my distain for this 'solution' to our immigration issues in this blog, my postings on social media, attending protests and rallies, telephoning congressional representatives and senators, and by talking truth to those wanting to lecture me about ‘family values, ‘pro-life doctrine’ and other foolishness used to justify a lack of empathy for kids in cages.

Paths We Share

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Updated: Jul 14, 2020

“Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sailor, Doctor, Lawyer, Merchant, Chief” is a nursery rhyme familiar to many North Americans. Children believe it refers to different livihoods. Hippies and millennials may understand it as the career path of one individual trying to find themselves. Life changing transformations happen. A long-standing job is terminated. A snap judgment is made to follow one’s dream. Transitions can occur side ways through a shift in focus. An otherwise minor aspect of your everyday work world now becomes paramount.

The human instinct is to resist change. It can feel like free falling, with no solid footing to build upon. Hope may turn to despair. We can adopt unconscious strategies, such as self-sabotage, which lowers our self-esteem and makes change a painful experience. Sometimes we feel stuck and not know what is the next step to take.

A method out of this dilemma is to pay attention to the coincidences, the unexpected in one’s life. It involves using the signs and symbols found in everyday occurrences. I call this process “Street Tarot” and coined the term in an article I wrote in 2016 forThe Mentor, a newsletter published by the Michigan Bar Association.

Street Tarot is a personal system that relies on noticing the meaningful coincidences occurring in our life. At times, they can appear in a symbolic form. A common example is spotting your favorite number. Awareness of more consequential happenstances is paramount to growth.

Carl Jung wrote about the notion of synchronicity or the principle of events connected through the phenomenon of meaningful coincidences. These happenings can tie together our inner world and outer reality in a dynamic way. The key here is to trust yourself. Recognizing these personal symbols and then following the small voice of your intuition can be the greatest guide out of despair and confusion.

A relevant example of Street Tarot arose on a day when I was feeling insecure and unsure of myself. Randomly flipping through a book, I landed on a page, and read the affirmation contained therein. A few hours later when asked if I ever thought of becoming a lawyer, my response was “never”. As the word left my lips, my intuition kicked in to remind me of the earlier saying. I understood it as an inner message. So, instead of dismissing the idea of going back to school to get a law degree, I knew it was the right thing to do. That decision transformed my life. The inner pull or strong urge to do something profoundly different is referred to as a ‘calling’. There is a sense you have no other choice but to heed its directives.

Of course, there is real world, everyday tasks that must be accomplished. In order to become a lawyer, I first had to take the LSAT, and submit applications to law school. Once admitted, the school of my choice offered a joint law degree program between Canada and the US. I focused my studies on areas I knew nothing about: the world of contracts, money, income taxes, and international business transactions.

Life always flows. To enhance personal growth trust your intuitive powers and be open to receive. In your discernments, be ruthlessly honest with yourself. It can also get brutal out there. So stay open and be observant. Trust your intuition. By the way, “Anthropology student, hand bookbinder, paper restorer, tarot reader and teacher, martial arts trainer, federal criminal appeals attorney, and trustee”. This is my personal rhyme. What is yours?

"Street Tarot"

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MYRA: In My Random Death, I talk about the time we met and the impression you made on me. It was like a speed date with an editor; we only had five minutes. Your spiky, pink-colored hair disarmed me, but I was impressed by the meticulous markups you did on my five-page hand-in for the 805 Writer’s Conference. You have a PhD in English, are a published author, and an editor, which accounts for your attention to detail. Can you explain a bit about your process?

BARBARA: Yes, it was like speed dating. I met with a dozen or so authors whose sample pages I had edited. Even with sample pages, of course, I always pay close attention, not only to what I call “gooder English” (a phrase I stole from a singer named Charo and began using with engineers when I was a technical editor) but also to logical thought and clarity. I’ve worked with more than 300 very smart people who may not be good writers. One of them, when I explained about adverbs, said, “So that’s what my sixth-grade teacher was talking about.” Whether I’m editing fact or fiction, I pay close attention to detail because I want to help my author produce the best possible book he or she can. That’s why we worked so closely together. We both worked hard, too, right?

MYRA: You like to work with an author who is engaged in the editing process of their manuscript. You’ve mentioned some clients don’t care and just dump their stuff on you. In my case, I cared a lot. We passed through my manuscript three times, looking it over, word for word, using track changes, with me accepting and rejecting your edits, as you questioned mine. I describe it as you weeding my flowers and pruning my trees. You did it without disturbing the voice of my garden. Is that usual for an editor?

BARBARA: Yes, I like to use the metaphor that an author is planting a really big garden and broadcasting seeds all over the place. My job is to weed the garden and possibly trim the trees. That’s what I did when I worked on your book. I weeded out, for example, some of your Canadianisms, like those clichéd “eh’s,” and some redundancies, too. You did indeed care a lot, and I’m always glad when an author pays attention and asks questions. My changes are not always perfect (duh!) because sometimes what I’m reading doesn’t quite make sense, so in editing, I can only give it my best shot. Sometimes I guess wrong. You (like other authors who pay attention) worked hard to clarify what you meant. That helped me, which helped you create a better, more readable, better written book. Brava.

MYRA: Thank you. To tell my story, it was a treasure to work with someone like you, who has the depth of the esoteric, the mystical, spiritual, the goddess world, and can grasp the legal mind at work, as well. I wasn’t your first lawyer as a client, and you’ve written about books on esoteric subjects. Your background as the venerable leader of a spiritual group can help others describe what seems indescribable. Can you speak to that a little?

BARBARA: Many thanks for your kind words. I’m still not sure I can “grasp” the legal mind, but I have worked with enough lawyers to understand that I should not mess with the legal jargon. What I can safely edit is the lawyer’s everyday writing, which was the content of most of your book. (Your descriptions of appearing before the U.S. Supreme Court were fascinating.) I majored in English literature for two graduate degrees, then started reading history to put the literature in context, and then somehow expanded my reading to esoteric, occult, and spiritual topics. That was maybe forty years ago, and I’ve never stopped reading. I’ve edited many books on esoteric wisdom and/or New Age philosophies, including at least two books with new ideas about the Tarot. That’s why our email conversations were so much fun. We’re on a lot of the same wavelengths. And that’s why I’m looking forward to working with you on your next book. Bright blessings!

Paths We Share

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