Move, create, radiate: Mia Tarduno releases universal book of women’s tales
FRISCO — Since moving to Summit County roughly six years ago, Mia Tarduno has taken an annual international vacation to relax and explore. Yet Tarduno’s latest excursion was unlike ones prior. It started in April 2019 and went for about a year as she lived in Nepal, Malaysia, Indonesia, Japan, Costa Rica and other locales. She also returned to places she’d been before such as Thailand, Hawaii and Canada.
Regardless of whether it was a new or familiar destination, the goal was different this year. Inspired by conversations with people around town, Tarduno sought to interview women about their hardships and triumphs. They discussed societal pressures and topics such as worthiness, loneliness, vulnerability, body image and connection.
“I was really interested in finding out if the struggles we have here in Summit County were similar to women around the world and was especially interested in what we require of ourselves to feel good enough,” Tarduno said. “I listened to a lot of stories of that coming out in different ways of women feeling like they needed to be a lot more or less of something in order to be a good enough girlfriend, wife, employee, friend, partner, whatever it is.”
Appropriately, those tales became Tarduno’s first published book, “Good Enough.” The paperback collects Tarduno’s watercolor paintings that illustrate her journey paired with poems crafted from the women’s stories. She found the messages the women shared to be universally relatable, so each free-verse poem is written in a first-person perspective.
“What I was feeling, what she was feeling, what another woman was feeling, would turn into a poem that could be a couple of people’s stories combined,” Tarduno said. “I found tremendous healing power in what comes from being able to have our voices heard and share our stories.”
Traveling isn’t new to Tarduno. Originally from New York, she moved to Boulder after graduating college to work for Bold Earth teaching backpacking to teenagers. Tarduno ended up staying in Colorado beyond that one summer and eventually moved to Summit to be even closer to the mountains and the outdoors. Her first job in the region was teaching yoga at the Silverthorne Recreation Center but she has since switched to private lessons and developing her own brand, Move Create Radiate. She offers coaching, virtual gatherings and other courses and services geared toward women.
In April 2018 Tarduno spent a two-week vacation in Greece. She yearned to let her creative juices flow and went into an art store to purchase a travel tin of watercolors. She would take reference photos and then translate the images onto paper with the new medium that she fell in love with.
“My friend and I sat on the beach one day, and I started drawing in watercolor and really loved it, and then it grew from there with what I could create,” she said.
That tin has been replaced, but she kept the hobby for her longer trip last April.
“I was living out of a 40-liter backpack for the entire time, so I needed the way to create art that was something that I could easily travel with,” Tarduno said. “So finding a couple pens and a small watercolor tin was a good way, I felt, that I could still express art.”
Tarduno’s style is influenced by line drawings with abstracted scenes that embrace white space and leave out details, such as eyes and facial expressions, in her subject. The lack of defining features makes the first-person poetry from a wide variety of women more accessible as the reader can become a 24-year-old on her first solo expedition or a 61-year-old mother.
Sometimes, she’d fill in the gaps on the map and chose a destination along the way, but there were countries that Tarduno planned to visit on certain dates. She’d follow a yoga instructor to her new home in Bali or take a course on trauma-informed yoga — the practice of recovering from traumatic experiences with specific breathing rhythms and poses — in Costa Rica.
She studied dance, anthropology and environmental studies in college — majors and minors she still uses with her yoga practice and chronicling travel stories — but Tarduno didn’t focus on art back then.
“My parents joke that they should have sent me to art school,” she said.
Similar to the painting, the poetry was simply self-discovered and became the natural medium for the book to tell the tales of a 20-year-old Nepali girl who started a podcast for women athletes or a 14-year-old who grew up as a nomad with her family of seven.
“It wasn’t a conscious decision.” Tarduno said. “It was more the way that I was reiterating stories or the way that I was expressing my own emotions would naturally come out in poetry to me.”
Before Costa Rica, Tarduno took a break from her journeys to participate in HighSide Brewing’s Third Thursday Art Night. Since she’s still new to the art world, it took her awhile to have enough postcards and prints to display, and while the one in-person event she attended wasn’t extremely lucrative, she’s glad she was able to connect with other artists.
“I hadn’t really met many other artists since moving here,” Tarduno said. “It was really cool for me to go to an event like that and see that there are a lot of other people doing artwork. I’ve been able to keep some of those connections and continue the conversation with other artists in the county.”
After her trip, it didn’t take long for Tarduno to compile the book as she worked on it in segments while traveling. Tarduno noted that with pictures and poems scattered among napkins and journals, she relived her adventure as she made the book. Because of her emotional closeness to the project, she also had friends read the poems to make sure they made sense and adequately got the message across.
“Especially with writing, when you get in a state of flow, sometimes it just comes out,” Tarduno said. “Later, I won’t even remember that that’s really what I wrote. It was neat to go back and read them. I feel like even on my own, I get a different perspective each time.”
While it can be read cover to cover, Tarduno encourages readers to leave it out to be referenced sporadically like a coffee-table book.
“Something I heard a lot of from reviews already I’m really excited about is that different poems will speak to the reader at different times,” Tarduno said, adding that it can be enjoyed by people no matter their age, gender or background.” It’s one you can come back to many times and get different guidance or perspective or stories from each time you go.”
Along with being available online, it can be purchased locally at Red Buffalo Coffee & Tea. Tarduno also is offering signed, personalized copies from her website, MoveCreateRadiate.com. She’d like to do readings and other in-person events in the future, but for now, people can follow her on Instagram and Facebook for virtual happenings.
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