The Yoga Trade community has been talking a lot lately about living yoga, taking action, and inspiring change. There is a lot of exciting stuff going on in the world today and we take pride in celebrating people who follow their purpose by leading something worth changing. I was fortunate enough to catch up with Zoe Balaconis, one of the trailblazing women who created Misadventures; an outdoor adventure magazine for women. They are igniting a print revival by sharing refreshing photography, illustrations, and stories by adventurous women. Movers and shakers they are, and here Zoe’s words inspirit us on how to follow our gut, share our passion, and be the change…
Back in 2013 we realized that there was a real dearth of women being represented in outdoors, adventure, and travel media (or being misrepresented). Not only that, but there was a lack of women writers and photographers in outdoor magazine mastheads. At first, we thought maybe it was a fluke or an exaggeration on our parts, but after some research we found that there was a glaring gap in the publishing landscape between traditional women’s magazines and outdoors and adventure magazines. We thought we’d try and do something about that. We figured that if we’re feeling this way surely other people are, too.
Why do you think so many adventurous women practice yoga?
I think part of it is that yoga goes everywhere with you. No matter where you are, or in what situation, you can find an opportunity to practice, even just by focusing on your breathing. Yoga also provides an opportunity to slow down and reflect, which is a rare thing — and all while engaging your body. It’s meditative in the way it challenges your whole self. That body-mind confluence is something I definitely aspire to.
Good characters make good stories (but, of course, a landscape can be a kind of character). There has to be some sort of relationship and movement toward something. Humor is always good. It reveals an author’s sophistication and voice; it elevates the level of narrative in a way that introspection and gravity rarely can for me.
How can we use our creativity for social change?
Any way we’re able to! Working on a creative project is, in itself, a kind of socio/political statement. And social change is a broad term. It can mean spreading awareness about something, telling a new kind of story, bringing people together, creating a bond that wasn’t there before, exciting a community, challenging a belief or image, asking a question, proposing a solution, protesting the status quo, and so many other things. I think creative thinking is absolutely necessary to inspire change, big and small. It’s all a matter of applying yourself, believing in yourself, starting small, and thinking bigger. Inequality is rampant in this country, and all over the world; some voices are heard so much more than others. The arts have the ability to amplify voices.
Why do you think community is important and how have you created community?
Community, in all its forms, provides support. It’s nice to know that you’re not alone, especially when it comes to taking risks. It can also be incredibly motivating to know that you’re a part of something bigger than yourself. You’ve got people to work for; you’ve got things to do. I think we’ve created community by carving out this space for women who have chosen a less well-trod path to share their stories, inspire others, and connect, wherever in the world they may be. So many stories of women pioneers get glossed over or left out — we’ve created a place for them to get their due.
Any thoughts on the phrase, ‘follow your heart’?
For me it’s always been more ‘follow your stomach.’ I make a lot of decisions based on intuition, and I’m fairly certain that is located somewhere in my guts. At any rate, it’s served me well so far. But, whether you’re following your heart or your gut, I think it’s always good to plumb your feelings now and again. Being in-tune with what gives you malaise or bliss or contentment provides a kind of wisdom…and freedom.
The word adventure, for me, recalls something of chance, fortune, happenstance, and a voyage. It means welcoming the unknown and the unexpected, come what may, by taking a risk, taking a journey (of any sort), keeping yourself open to feeling wonder, or just keeping your eyes open.
Zoe Balaconis is one of the co-founders of Misadventures, the adventure magazine for women, online and in print. Visit their site here and subscribe to get print issues straight to your door here. Their Summer 2016 issue will be out in mid-June and available in Barnes&Noble stores all over the country starting mid-July. Find a copy near you.
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