• Gwen Pollara

16 of My Favorite Things: Gratitude and More


Hello Friends,'tis the season when we are both reflecting on the past year and moving into the gift giving season. Countless posts and magazine spreads can be found suggesting what gifts would be best to give. It got me to thinking. What gifts have I have been given this past year? What do I want my friends to know about that might help them in this upcoming year?


Reflecting on my curated life, I feel so much gratitude and awe for the following companies, people and nourishing activities. Add your favorites. For what are you grateful? To whom would you like to say thanks? Are there companies, people, activities that have inspired you, helped you, held you in this past year, that you would like to tell others about? Here's my list:


  1. Favorite nourishing activity: Walking down to our little neighborhood creek to put my feet in the cool water. Very grounding. My whole system would be re-minded, re-wilded back into its true nature. Also, sitting in our yard with all the grandma and grandpa trees watching over us. Plus cats, chickens, dog. All so good.

  2. Favorite Food: Jennifer Hayes is a master cook. She puts together over the top healthy, free range, locally sourced, ethically produced meals in compostable containers to meet a variety of dietary needs. She catered our thanksgiving for us and, boy howdy, did everyone exclaim about how delicious this year's meal was. www.exaltedsandwich.com

  3. Favorite Local Activity: I recently joined on as a member at NEXT gallery in the 40 West Arts District on West Colfax. I am an artist but haven't been that involved in the arts scene here in Denver. There is so many talented artists in this town. First Friday and beyond! Get out there. A lot of galleries are open every weekend. NEXT is open Friday 6-10, Sat and Sun 12-5. Supporting artists is community building and inspiring for our own creative endeavors.

  4. Favorite Personal Enriching Workshop: Natalie Goldberg, hands down. I attended both of her workshops this year to learn all about the mindful practice of writing. Natalie is a Zen Buddhist meditation teacher and writing guru. It was soooooo good to get back to my sitting practice. We wrote and wrote. It was like swimming in an ocean of writing goodness.

  5. Favorite TV shows: Yes, even TV shows can be enlivening, inspiring and restorative I believe. Ted Lasso and Schitt's Creek uplifts the viewer. I felt a little kinder after watching the series. Hell of a lot better than Game of Thrones, which while well done, was intense for my nervous system. I'm consciously trying to pick what I put into my mind. As well as, cutting down on my overall screen time. I'm active artist now. I need to stay focused. My nervous system thanks me.

  6. Favorite Movies (to watch with your son): First of all, watch this and other movies by my son, Luca Pollara, emerging filmmaker. So, so proud of my young artist. His film, Sweeping Chimneys, received many quiet accolades from various peole in the film industry. https://youtu.be/4XVzAnYY9og This next movie is was one of the few movies in my lifetime that made me want to watch it again on the big screen. DUNE. The new one. You know the one. OMG! I watched it with my family. I just couldn't get over the relationship between the mother and son. The film in its entirety, just Wow! The cinematography, the acting, the costumes, the scenery, the storyline, the music. Yes, the music. Just that alone was worth it. Go see it on the IMAX screen if you can. Great Xmas gift: Tickets to DUNE. (Love you, Timothée Chalamet.)

  7. Favorite Documentary: I just watched The Last Forest. Watch it. Learn. The Yanomami people inspired me to parent the way I did. I love them. They are the original collective Lorax of this world. Watch the movie with your family. It's important. Very, very important.

  8. Favorite Blog: Jen Grauer is my friend. I worked with her over the past year or more helping her deeply declutter her home. She leans toward minimalism, essentialism, clean living, simple parenting, and has the same love of homes that I do. Here's a sample of her blog that mentions me! https://jengrauer.com/2021/11/07/the-motivation-that-finally-got-me-to-declutter/

  9. Favorite Skin Care: Skin Harmonics' Danny Neifert is a magician. You want clean products? It really doesn't get any cleaner and more simple/earth friendly than her products. AND she's in Boulder part of the year where you can get a deep healing facial that helps to prevent skin cancer, enlivens acne prone skin to aging/dry skin. She's lovely. I love her in fact. I love her products. They may seem pricey, but in this climate they are the only ones that work. Check out her philosophy and website, also on Instagram. Follow her for tips. www.skinharmonics.com

  10. Favorite Local Herbal shop: MoonDance Botanicals is Back! Candice is the best herbalist. She makes a lovely spray called Refreshing Body Mist that reminds me of the classic Aveda scent with bergamot, vetiver and citrus. I use it as a pillow and room spray. www.moondancebotanicals.com Located in Denver.

  11. Favorite Home Renovation Team: Joe and I are in the middle of planning a big renovation on our new home. ShelterBelt Architectural firm is the best in Denver for anyone wanting a collaborative team that has a strong leaning toward sustainable design. They love to create environments where the indoors and outdoors are one cohesive narrative. They work really well with the Permaculture landscape firm that we hired. Dustin Wright at http://www.livingearthdesigns.com is going to bring our property back to life with an integrated urban ecosystem that will sustain people and wildlife. Can't wait!! Many thanks to these angels for helping us make our dreams come true.

  12. Favorite Realtor: Okay so we bought our house 2 years ago, but we wouldn't be here without the tremendous patience and help of Heather Brooke. She is the best listener, most patient, most attentive, funny, fun, beautiful realtor in all the Land. https://www.porchlightgroup.com/realestate/agent/heather-brooke/

  13. Favorite Exercise Class: Over Covid lockdown, I developed the beginnings of Kyphosis, which is where the upper back starts to form a hump or a curve. In a matter of months of working on the reformer in Danielle Dugas' Pilates class, I was curve free. She is THE most knowledgeable fitness instructor I have experienced. Her directives are spot on. She knows her stuff. https://danielledugas.com/align-it/

  14. Favorite Charities: Oh there are so many. So many people and animals have needs in this moment. Joe and Luca help a little community of un-housed men that they found living under a bridge near downtown. I wonder if we all just picked one un-housed person or community to help, what a difference we could make. Many un-housed people hang out at Union Station. I invite you to go there on a cold night and just engage in conversation. Loneliness kills. My favorite Charity is Doctors without Borders. I love that they aren't affiliated with a religion, nor a country, not a political doctrine. They are humanists. They are on the front lines. I give every year in honor our father, Ron Hill, who served in a M.A.S.H. unit in Vietnam. www.doctorswithoutborders.org Locally, I give a lot to www.angelicavillage.org and Family Tree's Treasure Trunk Thrift shop. Angelica Village is co-housing for people escaping homelessness and violence. They are an inspiring, warm community. (PS Accountable Hands can help you around the house...check them out for hire)

  15. Favorite Coffee Shop: If you know me, this won't be a surprise. Bardo Coffee. Two locations in Denver. Because we are already living in the Bardo, so why not meet our friends there? Golden Milk with Oat Milk is the best. (Oh, I also love WeatherVane on 17th. Also really good Golden Milk) www.bardocoffee.com www.weathervanecafe.com

  16. Favorite Books: Top Three. 3. The Overstory 2. The Beautiful Things that Heaven Bears. And number 1: (Drum roll) My favorite Memoir by friend and activist, Kiri Westby, Fortune Favors the Brave. She's a Boulder resident, fellow badass mama, and writes sublimely about her adventures in activism around the world. Great gift/read for Teens and Adults.


So that's it. Not much to buy here but gift certificates are always a great gift to yourself or request one from someone loves you. Community is a gift. Supporting local artists, bloggers, writers, coffee shops, is a gift. Hanging out in Nature...best gift ever. Hanging with Friends. Deep laughter. Deep love. Deep meditation. All such gifts. I am starting a little coaching business to help people feel more deeply aligned with their Basic Goodness. Details forthcoming. Stay in touch. Happy New Year. Happy Holidays. Love to you all. Thank you for all the support.







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