We had the good fortune of connecting with Laura Padgett and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Laura, what role has risk played in your life or career?
I think one of the most important stories, and I’m sorry I don’t know the source is one about doing something a person has always wanted to do but being afraid of doing it. In the story a man goes to a violin teacher and asks how long it will take to learn to play violin. The master says that it will probably take about five years before the man will be playing light classics for his enjoyment. The potential student groans and says, “Five years. By then I will be over 50 years old.” To this the master asked him, “How old will you be if you do not learn to play violin?” Time will march on and taking the risk to do something in business or life or not taking the risk is not a factor as far as Father Time is concerned.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
My first love in art is dance. At the age of 45, encouraged by my husband and son, I started taking Irish Step Dance lessons as well as tap dance and clogging. It was very difficult to be the only person in the Irish Dance class over the age of 30 and at times I felt foolish. The other dance classes had gals closer to my age. But in all forms of dance, I worked hard, stayed healthy, perfected my craft, competed and performed well into my 60s. I was fortunate to accumulate multiple medals in competitions, as a team member and a soloist. I also learned to do dance in my church in worship. I have taught Irish and Praise dance for two decades. I think what set me apart was my age of course. But I also always wanted my students to first love the art for the art’s sake and not to depend on the accolades, medals and applause to reinforce their commitment to the dance. I’ve taught from California to Ottawa in Praise Dance and in Irish at various studios and a university. My second art love is writing. When I decided to do a Master’s Degree, I wanted to do it in dance. But the school I attended did not offer that. So I chose to do the degree in storytelling through creative movement. In that degree course, I found a love for writing and discovered that I could tell my stories in both dance and writing. I completed that Master’s Degree in 2009, at the age of 50, and have gone on to publish two books. The second book, “Jesus in Shorts: Twenty-five Short Stories of Life-Changing Jesus Moments” has won multiple awards and afforded me opportunities to speak to writers groups as well as at conferences, church retreats and gatherings. I have also published stories in Chicken Soup for the Soul editions and various online publications. What I’ve learned along the way, is also what I am most proud of is to never allow others to say “no,” when my heart screams “yes.” I want the world to know that when I teach a class on writing or dancing, I teach the whole person. I want them to enjoy their accomplishments and have the satisfaction of doing something that they may have been told all their lives they could not do. I don’t so much want to teach how to do something but why it is important to their soul’s fulfillment
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I no longer live in the Denver Area and if someone visits my home in Montrose, where I now reside, I would take them to many of the beautiful places in the outdoors around the Montrose Area. For a smaller town, we have great places to eat with Mexican, East Indian, Chinese and Thai food. If they want to eat Italian food, I will cook for them because I make great Italian food. Some of the highlights of their trip would be the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Quray Hot Springs, Red Mountain Pass, Paonia and Silverthorne. I would be take them to the Dennis Weaver Park near Ridgway, about 15 miles South of Montrose. This outdoor park is full of area history and little know facts about Mr. Weaver who many people will remember in various roles as an actor and environmental activist. A trip would not be complete without scenic view stops along the way to see the world famous San Juan Mountain Range and maybe do some fishing in the Gunnison or Uncompaghre Rivers.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My husband Keith has supported me through all my endeavors as an artist in various genres, including being a Christmas elf. He has participated and encouraged me in all aspects of realizing dreams and goals. My mentor of thirty five years, and the subject of my first book, “Dolores, Like the River,” modeled perserverence and tenacity in my pursuit to follow my heart and realize my dreams. She always had an encouraging word and uplifting message when I felt discouraged.
Linkedin: Laura Padgett
Other: The contact information for anyone who would like to buy a book from me directly or contact me to speak, teach dance or writing, is all on my website under the Contact tab. . The topics I speak on are also listed on my website under the Speaker Topics tab.
The picture of the Irish Pixie dancer is from Sandee Flannagan and I have permission to use it. The others were taken with my camera by my husband.