It’s that time again, my favorite season in Tucson. It’s gem show time, when, for two glorious weeks, our big brown town becomes encrusted with jewels, geodes, embroidered fabrics, and visitors from all over the world; it’s a global bizarre, replete with every imaginable color and texture. There are seven-foot amethysts, dinosaur bones, and antique Chanel chains. Imagine a football field filled with tables covered with mountains of pearls from China, in hundreds of shapes and colors. Picture tray after glittery tray filled with electric blue opals, rubies, emeralds, aquamarines. Turquoise beads the size of your hand, sinks carved from fossilized stone, and tables plastered with cut crystals glisten in the Tucson sun. It’s like walking around the ocean floor after all the water has gone, with a few thousand jewelry boxes and Tiffany’s stores tossed in. It’s heaven.


It’s so enticing, in fact, that I have corrupted a few of my far away friends, one of whom has become an accomplished jeweler just from visiting her pal Carrie in Arizona every February. The first year I took the delicious Janet Ecklebarger to one of the bigger shows, we made a “floor necklace” entirely out of little treasures that had dropped onto the convention floor. Another year, we bought “friendship necklaces” made of gold mesh tubes filled with tiny white topaz stones. Imagine me, panting at the sight of them, yelling “JANET! EMERGENCY!” to get her back down the aisle.

Janet and her wonderful husband (and extremely good sport) Eliot are on their way here for our annual visual feast, and I can’t wait. We will ooh, aah, and lament the fact that we never have time for a jewelry-making day in my studio. We ignite each other with ideas and enthusiasm, so working in the vicinity of Janet always gives me creative juice to spare.

Here some of her tasty morsels:


ladder necklace, hammered metal wire from old hangers, aluminum rivets


daguerreotype earrings: aluminum scrap, mica, rivets(check out more of her amazing work at

I used to troll the show alone when I first moved to Tucson, but now I revel in my time there with friends I love, playing like little kids in a giant, sparkly sandbox.

Also, I’m just back from a sublime workshop in Santa Fe with the divine Gail Larsen, author of Transformational Speaking. I thought it would be nice to polish my speaking skills, to go from my old Yelling College Instructor voice to something new and more relevant to my current roles.

I became a better speaker, due to Gail’s unparalleled guidance and warmth. But that’s just a tiny part of the wisdom I brought home with me, wisdom I suspect will make me a better listener, a better friend, a better writer, and a more patient mother. And, the icing on the cup-runneth-over cake: I fell madly in love. With seven people! At one time! I am basking like a happy puppy in the feeling I just made up a name for: laughterglow. Please pardon the pun, as there’s no better way to describe the enormous joy I feel from four days spent emotional trekking with wonderful, generous people. I got a huge dose of creative empowerment, new perspectives on my work and my words, and best of all, several new lifelong friends. I am way past lucky on this one, and remember that great saying: “The best things in life aren’t things.” Gemstones are nice, but may I present:



Yep, that’s a real person to my right, and yes, her name is really Gemma Stone. Gemma is a psychologist, coach and speaker from Calgary. She is just as gorgeous on the inside as she is on the outside, which is excessive, bordering on the supernatural. One smile from her and you just have to forgive God for showing off like this.

Gemma is the embodiment of love, patience, and all things good. I guess I must have been pretty pre-occupied at the workshop because the irony of her name was completely lost on me until I realized this:

The most valuable thing in my life is, has always been, and will always be, my relationships. My peeps. My loves. My students. My teachers. My children. And that’s what creativity is all about: people! How do we stir others with our work? How do we stir our own souls with the possible?

Thank you, Gemma, Tanya, Michael, Linda, Lissa, and fearless leader Gail for showering me with diamonds of light, rubies of wisdom, and emeralds of trust. I came home blazing with joy and the luster of new possibilities. 

I’m so excited to incorporate my new ideas into my March workshop PERMISSION GRANTED, Saturday, March 9th, and Sunday, March 10th!

Register at the Events link of my Creative Empowerment Facebook page, or contact me by email for details at

Sparkle Plenty!


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