Laura Padgett found her life’s calling almost by accident.
It all started from a standard doctor’s checkup when her doctor advised her to exercise more, a piece of advice most people can relate to.
Padgett found she was often tired, and couldn’t find any type of exercise that fit her lifestyle, until one day she saw a river dance, a type of Irish dancing.
“That’s when I realized I wanted to try it,” Padgett said.
“I found a woman who taught beginners. I’d come home so tired, but so excited, and that’s when I realized I had a passion for dance.”
For years, Padgett took on her newfound passion with tap dancing and clogging, which connected her further to her Celtic roots.
Padgett won competitions, taking home a gold medal at the Highland games in Estes Park for Irish dance in her mid-50s.
“My life was really changing because I was a medical transcriptionist, and my work went overseas,” Padgett said.
By this point in her life, Padgett was married with a child. She couldn’t work offshore and be home with her son.
“So I went back to school,” Padgett said.
Padgett earned her degree in mass communication at 50 attending Regis University.
After she completed her degree, Padgett went to work for the university, where she taught interested groups and students Irish dancing in her free time.
“I then decided I’d love to do a masters in dance,” Padgett explained.
“By now, I’d had 15 years of all kinds of dance experience, from teaching, to doing competitions and shows all over.”
Because Regis doesn’t offer a master’s program for dance, Padgett took a leap and began attending writing classes.
Padgett fell in love again.
“It was similar to dance,” she said.
“I absolutely fell in love with writing and making up these stories. When I realized this, I discovered there was a rhythm to dance; there was a rhythm to writing.
“They were related; they were sisters.”
Padgett discovered she could perform “storytelling through movement.”
“That’s what my master’s is in,” Padgett said. “With an emphasis in Sacred Dance — telling the stories of our faith.”
Padgett explained that when you look closely at dance, it’s mostly comprised of drama.
“There’s something going on in there. There’s a story they’re telling you.”
At almost 70 now, Padgett still lives her life passionately doing what she loves, combining her love of storytelling and dance to touch the lives of those around her.
“In my second book, I talked about the ministry of dance,” Padgett said.
“I tell stories about how dance has affected my life and the life of other people that I’ve ministered to through that art.”
Padgett’s first book, “Dolores, Like the River,” opened the door to a new kind of life.
Once her first book was published, Padgett began receiving invitations to speak at different places.
She would speak at writing groups, different ladies’ conferences or church retreats.
Her topics covered themes seen throughout her first book, ranging from the beauty of aging, the power of mentoring, to the difference a person can make in someone’s life who “really loves us and can treat us with dignity and respect.”
Padgett has written in Chicken Soup for the Soul, and won awards from the likes of the 2017 Writer’s Digest.
Her second book, “Jesus in Shorts: Twenty-five Short Stories of Life-Changing Jesus Moments,” delves into her personal relationship with God.
Padgett and her husband haven’t yet established a church since moving back to Montrose last March due to the pandemic, but she still lends her knowledge and love of sacred dance to teaching congregations when able.
“There is a great deal of resistance still, but people are becoming more open to seeing this as not entertainment, but worship,” Padgett explained.
As a writing teacher, however, Padgett prefers to take on a different style of teaching.
“I don’t teach people how to write; I teach them why their story is important.”
She focuses in on the “why” of a mission, telling her students that they don’t have to be athletes, rock stars, or celebrities.
“All of our stories come together and weave us as one. I think that’s why Chicken Soup for the Soul is so very popular because they’re normal people writing their stories. It leads to a sense of community, which is what we’re really after,” Padgett said.