We recently had a chance to chat with Disney author, podcaster, educator and speaker Kimberley Bouchard. Kimberley's ongoing book series, Positively Disney, is an inspiring and uplifting collection of heartfelt stories from guests, cast members, actors, artists and fans from around the world on the magic of Disney. We chatted with Kimberly about her fandom, her book series, and what she has learned from Disney about staying positive.

Laughing Place: We are here to talk about Positively Disney, but first, can you tell us a little bit about yourself for those that aren't familiar?

Kimberley Bouchard: Sure. Well, first of all, I'm Canadian, and we immigrated to the U.S. about 10 years ago now. I was actually a school teacher for years and years and also had my own Montessori school and homeschooled our kids because we traveled the world for 15 years while they were competing and performing in their Irish dancing and basically reinvented myself in my fifties with becoming a fully published author, working on a book six and seven, currently, of the Positively Disney series. And two books will be out this year.

One very special book will be out in the summertime. And then, book six of the series, the official book six will be out towards… I think towards Christmas, more at this point. I have three kids. They're all doing wonderfully in university. Also have a husband who supports everything and anything I want to do with Disney, he actually introduced me to Walt Disney World. And I introduced him to Disneyland because I grew up in Western Canada and he grew up in Eastern Canada. I'm a huge dog lover, huge lover of space program as well. Of course, huge Disney lovers, Star Wars lover and basically like people and pretty much all things Disney.

LP: That's great. So, you're probably best known for your Positively Disney series. Can you give us a little overview of that?

KB: Absolutely. So, the book series is … if you think Chicken Soup for the Soul, this is very much similar, but because it's about Disney and Star Wars. So, these are heartwarming stories, inspirational stories from the artists, the actors, Imagineers guest cast members from 12 different countries around the world that tell us about how Disney has impacted their lives or also Star Wars has impacted their lives. So, I got some quite famous people and then some of our regular Disney folks in there that have some amazing stories, often life-changing stories about what Disney or Star Wars has done for them.

LP: What made you decide to go down this route? What inspired you?

KB: We had several things that really impacted us, experiences really, in the Disney parks, on the cruise ships that were very profound, to be honest with you. And I got to thinking, "Gee whiz, if things like this are happening with us, there's got to be other people out there having things similar or greater." And I just put out a little note on Facebook, just inquiring and oh my goodness, I got feedback like you wouldn't believe. And I actually met my first Disney animator at a dance competition and his story was very inspiring. And so as things went about, people would give me snippets of information, something they might've seen on TV or in a newspaper, or just read about somewhere.

And I would track those people down and invite them to be part of the book. And also, I would come across stories people, actually, send me things and I reach out to numerous people, as I said, all over the world or people will introduce themselves to me. But I think the single thing that made me start writing the series was as a "thank you" to the Cast Members, because I wanted the Cast Members to know that what they say and do can make a huge difference. It always makes a difference, but sometimes it can be very big, very profound and they wouldn't even know it because these people go on with their lives. They don't necessarily know who the cast member was that did something for them or affected them. And I thought it was my way of letting the cast members know about different things that they had participated in and how it carried on outside of the parks, into people's lives. So, that was probably the singular thing that made me want to write.

LP: What does the response mean to you?

KB: Basically, it became a bestseller. I remember the very first book that went out. I was so excited because I was actually at a book fair signing books, and my husband was somewhere in the world, I can't remember where he was traveling to and my kids at home. I was out of town signing and they said, "Oh my gosh, you're about top five of bestsellers,” and then, I made it to number one. And that was within, about a six day period. And then, the other series, it seems like it gets to number one on Amazon within a few days, sometimes the same day, which is so, so amazing.

And I'm so grateful that people love my work, and I hear from a lot of people that either want to have me on their show or they have read my books, and they're very touched by the stories. The stories that I have really speak to the human condition. We all connect in some way, shape, or form to a story, whether it's a tragedy or a drama or comedy or an adventure and so people can relate to a lot of these stories. And also, just being Disney or Star Wars fans, to see where these things have transpired or as a result of a movie, we've all seen or been a part of, I think it's kind of neat. I live the story as I write it, to be honest with you. And then people also then live the story themselves when they're reading it. So that's sort of a neat spin off. I never expected that, actually.

LP: How have you handled the recent times we're in?

KB: Well, I'll tell you, my cooking skills got better. I bought some of the Disney recipe books. So, I kind of kept my family and my spirits up a little bit like that. But to be honest with you, I still managed to travel, since July, back and forth to Florida, numerous times to Walt Disney World and then, in California to Downtown Disney. So, I've been very fortunate to get my Disney fix throughout this whole time. I know people had expected a book to come out during this time, but I, like everybody else, was kind of in a bit of a … I was the chief cook and bottle washer, my husband working out of our house and my son doing university full time out of our house. So, my family comes first. It has to.

And so I was taking care of them and trying out all these fun, Disney recipes, which I really enjoyed, and I kept my show. I have a Positively Disney podcast, and I have Disney celebrities and guests each week and really enjoyed that and really enjoyed the ability to bring that to people out there. And when you keep focused on being there for others and not yourself, I found that it worked brilliantly. And so even though we have been in this situation, I've actually maintained, believe it or not, some sense of happiness and I've definitely had a purpose throughout the time and so grateful that I was able to travel safely and visit my favorite places.

LP: Looking to the future, what are you looking forward to in the near term?

KB: Well, I'm looking forward to spending more time in Walt Disney World because of our recent purchase of our second home. I'm finishing my season of my podcasts. I'm looking forward to being able to focus full time on the writing, during the summer months, as I usually do. And I am super excited about this special stand-alone book that's coming out this summer because half of all proceeds from that book will be given directly to Feeding America, to help American families at our doorstep that are struggling. And that, I have to tell you, I'm over the moon because to be able to be one person to do something like that is pretty humbling and pretty amazing at the same time. So, I have to tell you, that is something I'm exceptionally excited about.

I'm also really excited about book six that'll be out later this year, and I just got a call from Margaret Kerry. She's the original Tinkerbell [Editor Note: Kerry was the reference model for Tinkerbell in Disney’s Peter Pan] and a very good friend, and she's doing the foreword for book six. And so, I've got a couple of other projects, as well as those on the back burner, that I'm not able to share this time with you but I'm just really excited, as I said, about the stand-alone book coming out this summer and the book six coming out this year. People are going to be very, very happy, I think very surprised, about them because of the people who are in it and their stories that they've been very gracious to share with me. So, yeah, that's in the near future.

LP: Just to wrap up, as someone who's been spending time talking about what Disney means to people, what piece of advice do you have for Disney fans regarding how to positively bring those lessons into their lives?

KB: I think that if we can remember what it really is all about, what Walt had really set out to do: to provide entertainment, family entertainment, a safe place, a welcoming place to all, I think if we could embrace those principles and those values … and he was a happy, very dedicated man, and his goal was to provide what I just mentioned, to entertain families and provide a safe place for people to share time together. It was all about family to him and family, as you and I both have probably known over the years, it's not only the blood family. It's friends that are our family as well. And I think that if we remember to maybe provide a little bit of that magic that we feel in the parks, or just a little bit of, "What would Walt do in our lives?" I think people would really take a little bit of a different path in the way they handled things or look at things.

Walt, like many people, failed numerous times but learned so much from those failures and people think that, well, a failure is a failure. Actually, failure to Walt particularly, and to many people that are successful, have been learning steps, have been learning opportunities. And I really think that Walt took a lot of brief steps, things that people have never even thought about or people thought he was crazy to buy up the swamp land in Florida. And I think to have a little bit of that gumption to just go for it, to believe in something and do it no matter if somebody is supporting you or not and just think about what Walt had achieved and how he achieved in spite of some of these failures, I think we would be doing some amazing things and not let those things that maybe the failures or the thinking that you can't do it standing away.

I think never, never let something like that, that premise of, "Oh, I can't do that," or "Oh, that's going to be a lot of work." No. I think “do what Walt did.” Go for it anyways, despite the fact that it was going to be a lot of work and he hadn't figured out the next step until the next step arrived. So, I think baby steps and just going for it and doing what you love and thinking about others while you're doing it. I think you're not going to fail on that and when you're thinking about how to, basically, make the world a better place, really, that's what Walt did.