Mayra Paradas: Life is a Dance
Women’s History Month Feature
An interview with Dance Teacher Mayra Paradas and Ashia Gallo, MPA, Wholeness Collective Coordinator
Mayra Paradas is the passionate, bi-lingual dance teacher and personal trainer who has brought new and fun ways to heal to Mosaic Georgia’s Wholeness Collective! For Womens’ History Month, we are proud to feature Mayra and capture her thoughts on womanhood, making a living while prioritizing your dreams, and advice she’d give to women and survivors of trauma.
What is one thing you love about being a woman?
How we can be nurturing and strong at the same time – We can be a mother and wife and build businesses and a home.
When did your interest in dance begin?
I always knew I wanted to try dance since I was a child, but we couldn’t afford it at the time. Then, in high school dance was offered as a main class I could take. Every day, for four years. For free!
My dance teacher at the time, Natalie Cruse, really encouraged my passion. An honor in our dance class was developing your own choreography to be performed at the annual show. I auditioned twice and didn’t make it. But the third time, during Senior Year, I was featured in a solo/trio dance that I created! After that, I was obsessed with dance and learning. I was more confident and would be dancing in the aisles at Walmart!
Did you end up choosing a fine arts school post-high school?
No because I hadn’t been studying dance long enough. I ended up with an academic and dance scholarship to Lawson State Community College in Birmingham, Alabama after high school. I joined the dance team, worked with a nonprofit dance studio, and started doing dance ministry for multiple churches. It was one of the best times in my life. I was offered dance captain at school but had to turn it down my second year. Life was changing…
Yes, please share about your experiences as a young wife and mom!
My husband Joel and I were set up for high school prom. Super awkward, but we liked each other and come from the same [Dominican] culture, so it worked. We married and had my daughter in my early 20s, while I started college the same year. My son came a couple of years later. It was VERY HARD to juggle everything. Creating a family and getting my education at the same time.
It was also hard for Joel to get used to it from a cultural perspective. He’d grown up around housewives. But my mom was a businesswoman – she had a hair salon in Birmingham and owns a restaurant in Buford, GA called Oregano Latin Bar and Grill that specializes in Colombian and Dominican food – so I never knew any different. If I could change anything, I’d maybe not do so much so young!
Can women have it all?
It depends on your expectations; you can get close, but too many dreams make it difficult. Putting effort into one area takes away from another. You cannot do everything perfectly. Stick to the top 3 things that mean the most to you: for me, its God, family, business.
What is one piece of advice you would give your daughter on how to navigate the world as a strong woman?
Follow your dreams with dignity and standards. Don’t be manipulated into saying yes to things you don’t want to do.
Where are things today with your family and your work?
My daughter is 10 and my son is 7 (sometimes I can’t believe I’ve been a mom for a decade!). I graduate from SCAD this Spring. LOL Schools (Live Online Learning) is my next venture. I want to create an online school that caters to children ages 4-17. My husband and I taught online while living in Punta Cana, DR during COVID, and really loved it! LOL will offer activity classes in language, art and design, school subjects, and life skills (cooking/organizing/etc.). It’ll be like Outschool.
How do you prioritize yourself so that you do not pour from an empty cup?
In order to give your best to others, give the best to yourself. Be an example. Eat, rest, and exercise well, then motivate others to do the same things. Lack of these things will cause unintentional mental health problems.
When is the last time you cried? Why?
Last big cry: Years ago, in the shower after a diagnosis with cancer (Mayra was diagnosed with spindle cell sarcoma while living in the DR. She had a golf-ball size tumor removed and is in remission). Last small cry: Feeling that the huge pressures and expectations that ruled my life were misunderstood.
What advice would you give to survivors of trauma?
There’s only so much you can do and what others can do to motivate you. You must find something bigger than yourself. Willpower only takes you so far. For me, it’s been my faith in Jesus.