Why Yoga?

I am an artist who practices yoga. Sometimes it seems like yoga has become my art and I practice painting in my spare time. The truth is I learn from both and they have aligned perfectly to lead me to my next phase in life…I am just not sure exactly how it will manifest. What I do know, however, is that the daily, consistent, practice of yoga has guided me through all the changes that keep occurring in my life and keeps me grounded.

so…Why Yoga?

1. You can’t rush it. It takes time and patience. (Two things we often feel lacking in our lives). That’s what practice is all about…you keep doing it and after a while you see progress.

2. Its the mind/body connection. Exercising without resting my (overly active) mind doesn’t attract me much. I love the feeling of calm alertness after I practice yoga.

3. Communing with my peeps. I have practiced yoga long enough to be able to go it alone at home, which I often do. But the feeling of connection with a roomful of kindred spirits, even in meditation, satisfies something deeper. I love the sound of a chorus of resounding OM’s.

4. Feeling the flow. I am a fan of Vinyasa yoga. Linking breath with movement, setting an intention and flowing through a series like sun salutation–unblocks channels of energy and emotion. That’s how I take care of myself. I like to stay as unstuck as possible.

5. Disengage from doing. Yoga becomes like breathing after a while…less struggle, more joy, especially if you just come to your edge and don’t push too hard.

6. Let it be. Sometimes my mind and heart are a tangle of emotions. Then I remember…just breathe. Breathe in the feelings–ALL of them and then breathe out the need to control, or even understand. Sadness and joy can sit side by side in your heart…they can co-exist.

7. Some of my best moments occur on my mat. I like myself the best there.

Chapter 3…To Begin Again

Some of you may wonder what I am up to since I have closed both of my SIGRID OLSEN art galleries for the time being… You could say I am on a mini-sabbatical, reassessing my life and work. Another way to explain it…I am creating space for a new incarnation to blossom in this 3rd chapter of my career. It has been a leap of faith for me every day to imagine what might grow out of the fertile soil that I have nurtured for so many years. I’m not the same person I was thirty years ago when I naively began a business that was magnified to proportions far beyond anything I could have imagined at the tender age of 31. Here I am 3 decades later, grateful for the lessons learned as I’ve surfed the relentless waves of change and upheaval that have washed over my life during the past several years. I could have let them pull me under several times. Even now, with the strength of all my hard-earned wisdom, I sometimes succumb to self-doubt, impatience and fear of the unknown. It’s not surprising–everything I thought about my life has been turned upside down. But I have found my pillars of strength in these four things…and I can never forget their importance:

1. Love 

I am fortunate to have a family that is grounded in unconditional love. We don’t hold on to anger, we forgive, we support, we want what is best for each other. I also have connected with the most amazing collection of true friends, some I have known for decades, others for a matter of months. I rely on my friends and family to listen, to understand, to care–and to simply love me. Always have. I realize this is rare and I am thankful for the people in my life every day.

2. Nature

Nature is my medicine. There are plenty of days when I feel sad, anxious, even depleted, but all I need to do is get outdoors and put my feet in the sand or surround myself with trees and look up at the sky and it settles my jangled nerves and lifts my heart.  I can take a walk, then pause to surrender to the wind as it washes away my crazy thoughts, so I can start the day anew.

3. Yoga

Yoga is a balm for me. For others it might be something else–dance, running, biking–whatever it is, we must use our bodies in order to keep them happy. Especially at my age. I love yoga because it conditions my mind, spirit and body all at the same time. There is nothing that captures my full attention like yoga. It feels good every day, some days I take it easy and am gentle with myself–others I need more intensity. Everything I need is just waiting patiently for me on my mat.

4. Creativity

When I lose myself in a creative project–whether it’s painting, printmaking, design, cooking, gardening, writing, re-arranging the furniture–everything else falls away and there is a pure happiness that comes over me. As an only child, I used art to entertain myself and it instilled in me a habit of creating for personal fulfillment. The act of making something with my hands still nourishes me when I need it most.

Whatever I do next has to embrace these four elements. That is why I developed my Creative Wellbeing Retreats. I love being present when women rediscover their own creative souls and share laughter, inspiration and love with one another. Still seeking creative outlets and a desire to design, I have many projects in work that will generate a new crop of ideas and products to share with you…so please stay posted as it all unfolds.

Mocha Frappuccino-reinvented

OK, so I was feeling a little bit of a slump this afternoon as I sat at my computer (multitasking as usual). So I asked myself…what IS IT that I want anyway? What I needed was a 30 minute yoga session or a brisk walk, but today I wasn’t giving myself that treat–too much to do–I can be quite the taskmaster when I have to.

Here is the scene: I am facing out to a sparkling sea from my perch at the big rustic table set in the center of my living room, which has now become my office/conference room/studio and listening to nice jazz on the Stan Getz Pandora station. It’s all good. Except I’m using up my mojo and I have so much more to do, PLUS I want something yummy, but still reasonably healthy. Must be sweet, caffeinated and VERY cold.  I access my inner Starbucks and decide to improvise. 

Here’s the recipe:

1/2 cup cold coffee ( I use Barista’s Beans espresso, specially roasted for my by my son Erik)

2 cups unsweetened almond milk

2 Tbs cacao powder

2 tbs pure maple syrup

1 frozen banana

12 ice cubes

BLEND until frothy. Drink with abandon. Get back to work. 

Note: Anyone who has been to Italy, might know the actual source of my inspiration…the delicious icy “frappe’ di caffe’” my Mama introduced me to in Naples. Mine is a vegan, sugarless version, substituting maple syrup for sugar and Sarasota Bay for the Bay of Naples.

A Change of Venue

Last week I closed the doors of my Sarasota Gallery for the last time, leaving my keys inside. Time to move on. It was a bittersweet moment…a mix of poignant memories and hopeful anticipation for the future.  (More about the future soon…!)

When Curtis and I chose to move to Sarasota four years ago, we signed a lease on 407 South Pineapple Avenue even before we had a place to live. We knew that it was the right next step in our life adventure. So much has happened since then. 

With Curtis gone, I found it hard at first to spend days alone at the gallery, but gradually I regained my appreciation for the serene beauty of a space so imbued with color that it could sometimes take your breath away, especially in the golden light of the afternoon sun. This lovely art-filled habitat with the grass green floor provided for me a portal to a new community and it helped expand my vision. The daily flow of people through the door, the chance to experiment with new ideas and play with visual display…all of this has led me to where I am today…on the precipice of a new chapter where design and wellness coalesce to create a completely revitalized business model. 

I have so much to be thankful for. Huge shout outs to all my friends and family who faithfully attended our Friday night fetes and continue to support me every day. Special gratitude to “the Natalies”, who have both blessed me with their graceful, uplifting, competent, adorable presence and have enabled me to happily grow a business in a new town.

For those of you who walk past the Burns Court building and feel sad–remember that everything is impermanent and this closing is not forever. I love Sarasota, have made my home here and have dreams of bigger and better things to come. Stay posted!

To shop on line, please visit: http://www.sigridolsen.com


10 ways yoga can inspire in the workplace.

The revival of my yoga and meditation practice has brought me so much in the last few years. It has kept me calm, centered and optimistic, even in the face of calamity and loss. But, more than that, there are so many lessons I have learned on my mat that bring vitality to my business. Yogic teachings are a metaphor for life. (…and the blueprint for my new company launch: New Designs for Living.)

1. Intention

Setting an intention is like a creating a mission statement. Hold the highest goals and objectives in mind and then simply proceed with daily practice. Keep checking in to revisit the touchstone of intention.

2. Strength

Doing yoga on a regular basis certainly makes us stronger in body, mind and spirit. Inspirational leadership, confident decision-making and consistent perseverance in business requires profound strength of character.

3. Flexibility

Life is an ever-changing landscape and if you can flow with it, everything is better. Cultivating flexibility requires patience and faith, as well as regular practice. Eventually we learn to allow the forces of time and nature to do the work.

4. Self-knowledge

Taking time for introspection brings us right to our personal edge. If we keep exploring, questioning, moving and reaching–stretching our limits–without pushing too hard, we learn what we are capable of.

5. Discipline

Discipline means taking the long view and doing the work to get there. 

6. Balance

Balance poses often reveal how we are feeling emotionally. Some days staying calm and centered is easy and others, not so much. Always returning to internal stillness–practicing even when it’s hard–is the way to cultivate inner focus and calm detachment. We get thrown off less easily and can preserve our energy for the work we have to do.

7. Clarity

The calm clarity I achieve after a session of yoga or meditation is the perfect environment for creativity, innovation, and productivity. Communication is clear and efforts are not wasted. 

8. Compassion

Yoga teaches us to cultivate compassion not only for others, but for ourselves.  A company performs best when everyone is cared for with mutual respect and gratitude.

9. Patience

There is an ebb and flow to everything. Breath is an integral part of a yoga practice and helps slow the mind so that we are able to pause and touch that place between words and actions–breathe in inspiration, breathe out creativity.

10. Unity

Yoga means “yoke” or unity–of body, mind and spirit. Nothing gets accomplished when goals and people are fractured and working at cross purposes. A shared vision empowers a company to greatness.

A Note to my Dearly Departed

Dear Curtis:

It is a year ago yesterday that you passed away ( I love this term, even if it is a euphemism,  because it suggests a transition into another form, rather than a finite ending). That day last March, when you took your last bicycle ride was absolutely flawless–blue sky, hot sun, soft breeze–and this past Sunday was a carbon copy. I sensed the anniversary more by feeling the energized particles around me than by the date on the calendar. You know I am not much for tradition, preferring instead to establish my own rituals based on emotion and intuition. More than anything, I spent the day feeling pensive, at peace, and…grateful.

If I could send my thanks into the heavens, it would be for the incredible support and love that you gave in boundless abundance. What a gift it was (and is) to know someone who believed in me so completely. But I am thankful, too for the independence we had in our intertwined lives. You were free to pursue your adventures: transatlantic sail, cross-country motorcycle ride, multiple regattas in St. Martin, while I was left to create to my heart’s content and follow my own path. This parallel coexistence is the key to many successful marriages. And departures as well, I suppose.

Self-knowledge and freedom eases the transition of loss. We were together for a time, where life lessons were bountiful and lots of fun was had. Now life has more lessons in store and I feel equipped to learn them.

You don’t need to worry about me. I am well enveloped in a soft cradle of love from all sides. My kids & your kids (our kids) have been amazing…I feel closer to them than ever. My friends have kept me well fed, hugged and supplied with laughs and entertainment. People were so kind to me those first few weeks that I found it hard to be sad, but when the sadness finally came, I welcomed it.

I am still doing yoga almost every day and occasionally I get the sense you are in the room–the air is charged with a poignant and playful energy. Another perk is this: somehow in our society, losing a husband allows one permission to say or do anything…I get to pull out the “widow card” whenever I need to, enabling me to conjure up the word “no” in a way I never felt free to before. 

They say that grief is the process of finding comfort where you can. For me it is in feeling connected and loving life no matter what. My emotions flow in waves,just as the weather changes: storms erupt, then the sun comes out again…I flow with it.



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NOURISH cleanse

Transition time: moving myself from Massachusetts to Florida–the change that happens twice a year–in May and October. Not always the easiest for me.

This time, maybe to  distract from the tender sadness of coming returning to Sarasota sans husband, I decided to do a modified cleanse of sorts. I had a partner–my sister Lisa–who road-tripped it with me in my newly tuned up 10 year old Audi TT convertible. Its a two-seater so its very telling about the strength of our bond that I sacrifice valuable real estate to have her occupy the passenger seat on this journey. Together, after a particularly lovely meal at A. Lure in Savannah Georgia, we decided when we crossed over the Sarasota city limits we would commit to a cleanse. We needed to dial it back…waaay back. Funny…once you make the decision it’s easy to be disciplined.

For the last few months (several to be honest) I indulged in my own modest form of decadence–drinking wine or cocktails every night, daily desserts, especially ice cream with the occasional frozen yogurt ( counter staff at red mango promised me I wasn’t the only adult who came in alone and had a well used frequent buyers card). I wandered far off the gluten-free regimen I was on, especially after a week in Provence–oh, the croissants, baguette, pastries! Gorgeous cheeses. Magnificent meals of every kind. To the point where these foods eventually squeezed out the fruits, vegetables, green drinks, nuts, seeds, whole grains that used to be a large part of my diet. I hadn’t had quinoa in months. Enough was enough. It was time to wipe the slate clean.

This is the basic plan for my NOURISH cleanse (not a true cleanse but I hate the word diet) : No dairy, no meat, no gluten, no sugar (includes honey, maple syrup, agave), no processed food, no alcohol, no coffee. Plentiful amounts of vegetables, green smoothies, fresh juices, fruit, nuts, seeds, legumes, brown rice, quinoa, olive oil, garlic, herbs. Plenty of water and coconut water for electrolytes and a tasty treat. (I served mine up in a delicate wine goblet to satisfy my need for the act of drinking elegantly). Not that hard, really.

The best invention so far:  green sauce. Variations of this exist in many cuisines: Italian pesto, Provencal pistou, Argentinian Chimichurri.  I made a jar of it and put it on everything. Its a flexible, intuitive recipe (like most of mine): Combine lots of olive oil, 2 large cloves of garlic, a pinch of kosher salt, a handful of Marcona almonds with the freshest basil you can find (lots of it) , cilantro and parsley and grind it all until very smooth in a food processor. That’s it. 

Easy, beautiful, healthy, delicious.


 Fresh Green Sauce, sunflower sprouts, & toasted pine nuts
 Fresh Green Sauce, sunflower sprouts, & toasted pine nuts

Textile designs

I have long been wary of digitally printed fabrics, so I delayed the instant gratification of taking my designs to this venue. Until now.  I just wanted to make a few pillows and see what my newer artwork would look like as textile designs. Now I am hooked. I can do it all from the comfort of my desk, tabletop, laptop–basically anywhere using spoonflower.com. This is a good example of utilizing a medium even if some of the work they promote doesn’t appeal to me…it doesn’t matter–you get what you put into it. Like everything I venture into these days, this foray into printed fabric is a shot in the dark. I felt like doing it and I did it. Without any clear notion of where I am going with it. That’s the beauty of having my own gallery–I make stuff and put it out there to get a read on it. Will see where it goes. Love being a textile designer again!


 Cote D'azur, Dolce--printed linen/cotton canvas.
 Cote D’azur, Dolce–printed linen/cotton canvas.

Beach Walk

My life has been defined by beaches. My travel, my retreats, my marriage and my love…Today I am in Sarasota in mid June, a brief escape from the still cold spring weather in New England and a chance to reconnect with friends and clients here before I head  back North for the summer season. It is Father’s day and my thoughts are a jumble of gratitude and regret. I am thankful for my own father, who is jubilant still at 94, and regret for the fact that I could not wake up this morning and greet my husband with a smile and wishes for a Happy Father’s Day.

So much has changed for me in the last few months. I am truly untethered. My anchor keeps shifting as my emotions erupt and then pass like tropical storms.

I walked the beach today–determined, speedy, trying to escape the sadness welling inside me. I kept thinking of all the different beaches in the world I have walked with Curtis and all that we hoped to walk in the future. I remember the last walk on Dillon Beach with our entire blended family. The last one I will take with him. We said goodbye and left him to blend in with the sea. As sad as it sounds, it comforts me to know I can still remember things that I haven’t thought of before…we have that many memories to recount. 


Pink Flamingo

Every Summer we have a Kick-off Party to start the season here at the Rocky Neck Art Colony in Gloucester, MA. We are known for our signature cocktails and this month we are featuring the newly created “Pink Flamingo” . Here is the recipe:

1 cup freshly juiced watermelon

1 knob fresh ginger ( about the size of your knuckle) 

3/4 cup chilled vodka

1/2 cup pomegranate/passion fruit iced tea ( I use the POM brand) 

splash of Triple Sec

Juice the watermelon and ginger together in a juicer and combine with the other ingredients (very chilled if possible). Serve over ice.  Yum. (Try not to taste test before 11 am like I did…)

The Pink Flamingo
The Pink Flamingo