I live in the high desert of the southwest. For me, New Mexico truly is the Land of Enchantment. Much of my poetry and my first novel, Weather’s Store: Encounters with the Sacred, reflect the mesmerizing nuances, the moods, traditions, rituals and people of this unique place.
The true passions of my life have been both writing and therapy/caregiving. I began writing poetry as soon as I knew how to string letters together to make words. In clearing out my mother’s house I found a Christmas poem I gave her when I was seven. Writing a holiday message has been my personal way of celebrating the season and the first volume of 20 years of poems appear in the poetry collection, Winter’s Invitation.
Growing up in New Mexico the Native American and Hispanic cultures infused our daily life with rich traditions. My family background includes a wonderful heritage of a close Italian community from Lucca, Tuscany. On my mother’s side I had a true pioneer heritage that included a highland Scottish legacy. These wonderful experiences have poured their abundant culinary and holiday traditions into my daily life and celebrations.
My mother and father each lived with disabled family members. My mother’s sister suffered the long-term effects of polio and died just two years before I was born on the exact same date and day of the week as her birthday. My father grew up with his father having uncontrolled seizures due to a botched surgery in the U.S. military in WW1.
I was part of a caregiving family from my earliest memories. My mother inspired in me a compassion and deep respect for those with disabilities and a passion for taking care of each other. Becoming a therapist was so intrinsic to my nature that I forsook the urgings of several of my English professions to drop out of college and just write.
When I was diagnosed with the chronic illness, systemic lupus (SLE), I decided not to let it define me. For the first years after the diagnosis I was bedridden much of the time. My family never let me down in those times. I believe that each experience we have can create strength and resilience in us. Those experiences offer an opportunity to help others with their own struggles. A quotation from Camus has always inspired me, “in the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer. …No matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger-something better, pushing back”.
In the last 10 years I have been the caregiver for five family member who passed from cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer. I am forever grateful that I was able to be there for them.
In all my writing and in my life, I embrace a constant theme expressed throughout the poems in Weaving the Wind. No matter what unexpected and unearned challenges that blow into our lives like the wind blowing in a random piece of paper, we can weave into these visitations of destiny an indomitable spirit filled with hope and healing.
In my newest novel, Shatter My Heart, all the experiences and legacies of my life merged with characters and events even as the characters dictated their own stories and developed in ways that surprised and delighted me.
In progress are three other books. A sequel to Shatter My Heart, a new collection of poems and a book of the joyful experiences of my first Beagle called The Beagle Blues.
Professional Background Psychologist
I earned my Ph.D. in clinical and developmental psychology from the University of New Mexico graduating Phi Beta Kappa, cum laude and with departmental honors in psychology. I received a National Institute of Mental Health grant to study in Pittsburgh as a post-doctorate.
I returned to New Mexico to work in the Children and Family division of the University of New Mexico Mental Health Center where I also held joint appointments in Psychology and Psychiatry. After my diagnosis of Lupus, I opened a part time private practice. I speak to organizations and various groups about living constructively with chronic illness. I also provide workshops on writing your life experiences into literature.
The Debra J. Giomi Memorial Crane Card Project
After my sister’s death from breast cancer, I continued her legacy of offering encouragement and support to those diagnosed with cancer, their family and friends by sending out an origami folded crane (the symbol of peace and hope). The Debra J. Giomi Memorial Crane Card Project continues and is expanding to include those challenged by other diseases and disabilities. If you would like more information about this project or would like to be a part of it, please contact me through this website.