The Zen of Being Gwen

The Zen of Being Gwen

It’s a rainy winter morning and the Candle Studio at Thistle Farms glows with music, light, and the aroma of hot coffee, essential oils and warm soy wax. Department manager Gwen works at the desk in the corner, the candle crew is busy pouring and packing candles, and sharing stories from the weekend. The interstate traffic just above our parking lot, and a continuous sprinkle of rain provides a constant splashy backdrop of white noise just beyond the glass doors. This place feels like an incubator on days like today. Safe from weather, worry, and a world that can be unwelcoming.

There was a day, not so long ago, when a rainy day like this would have meant a constant search for shelter for almost every woman in this room. Gwen remembers what it was like to have so little and want so much. 

“In the last several years, I’ve worked hard and I have received all of the desires of my heart. There was a time when home ownership and cars and jobs and friends and love weren’t even possibilities. That’s what street life is - the complete lack of possibility.”

Gwen stops to help a member of her team, listening and giving direction with the confidence of a person who trusts herself completely. A person who has realized her value and has leaned into it fully.

“Today I have all of the things that I dreamed of and now I’m looking ahead to what to do with that. What can I do to make the world better, what can I do to help the suffering, what will my legacy be? I want to give grace in the same amount that I have found it.”

For over 20 years, Thistle Farms has believed that love is the most powerful force for change, and to date, 40+ organizations nationwide have created programs based on our model of recovery. Loving is what we do and in being loved, we are each healed. Learn more about our residential recovery program and our social enterprises at