My book is available as an ebook (Woman Enough– paperbacks coming soon!) but I decided to continue to interview some women who I believe are some of the bravest, and who deserve to have their stories shared. I want to celebrate women. Nothing more, nothing less. Here they are in their own words. I am humbled and grateful to have a small snapshot into their worlds.

Laura and I met a long long long time ago (sixth grade?) and then reconnected on social media a couple of years ago. I’m grateful to Laura for sharing her experiences here, including openly discussing the end of her marriage. The act of falling in love and getting married is easy; a relationship is hard. Her positivity and ability to bring people together to talk about controversial issues online is something I admire. Laura is giving herself the life she’s always deserved: full of compassion, enthusiasm, luminosity, and love. Knowing her has made my heart grow.

-Lissa

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Name: Laura Bedard

Please share whatever you would like us to know about yourself:

I will turn 39 this month. I am a school bus driver and an artist living in Lake Hubert Minnesota. When asked if I have kids I answer “30”! Haha, my bus kids, I currently have no children of my own. I feel a great sense of purpose from transporting children to and from school. My passion is art of all kinds but I focus on painting and jewelry making. I feel the closest to myself and God when I am creating. I was raised Catholic and feel grateful for that background.  Through life experience though I have become more spiritual. I feel connected to the love of God more so when I am in nature, with animals or though the kind acts of people, than I do from an organized church service. My life took a huge unexpected turn 3 years ago when my husband of 10 years asked for a divorce. I did not want to get divorced. I believed we could improve on our issues. However I realized it was what he wanted and wasn’t worth fighting him on.  I can now look back at the divorce as a blessing in disguise because I have experienced so much, grown so much as a person, which would not have happened if i hadn’t been divorced. One of these blessing is that I have been able to learn from and love a special friend from Nigeria. My experience with him has opened my eye to a larger world and has helped me stay grateful for the amazing and numerous opportunities available to me.

Looking back on your life thus far, what has been your biggest accomplishment?

Six years ago I was at my lowest point in life. A deep dark depression that had me thinking about suicide. A large reason for this was because I did not like the person I was. I was lying to myself and others about who I was. At the time I was a daily pot smoker of 10 years. Smoking had become my unhealthy coping skill to avoid emotions and life in general. I used it to avoid processing past and present traumas. The way I was living did not match my core values.  My biggest accomplishment thus far in my life was when I spoke out and asked for help. Opening up to my husband about not wanting to live any more, to then find resources to help me gain healthy coping skills for my emotions. Also finding the courage to talk about this experience openly. In doing so I have received healing and I believe others have received gifts from hearing about it. Taking the steps to make these changes literally altered my life, my outlook on life, and my ideas about who I am.

What makes you happy?

Oh my! The shorter question would be what doesn’t make me happy? Lol! From my transformation 6 years ago I have one motto, “look on the bright side”. I try to find happiness, blessings, or positive things in any situations.

But to answer your question: things that make me happy are: being in nature, swimming, campfires, creating, hugs, home cooked meals shared with family, snow, star-gazing, children’s laughter, imagination, and road trips! Just to name a few!

What’s something/a time you look back on & wish you would’ve done it differently, if any?

Easy! I wish I had gone to college for art! Growing up I always heard “starving artist”. I was educated to believe it was more important to have a job where I made “good” money. So I went to college and got degrees in science. I enjoyed my laboratory jobs, but left at the end of the day thinking “what was the purpose of my work, how did it benefit myself or others?”. It was actually my grandma’s passing at 93-years-old that helped me realize life is too short to work doing something that doesn’t give you purpose and bring you joy. So I quit my Lab jobs and started on a new path.

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Laura’s artwork

What makes you sad, & how do you deal with that sorrow?

I feel sad when I witness people judge or label others. I have a need for all people to be accepted, understood or loved.  Three different levels. I feel sad when people don’t accept others that are different from themselves. I feel sad when people don’t take the time to try to understand why others are different. I deal with this sadness first through self love and trying my best to be an example of what I would wish others to be. I also feel sad that everyone is not equally resourced. Meaning not everyone has the same access to knowledge, skills, or services that can help them better their physical, emotional and mental state if they so choose. I honestly haven’t created a way to deal with this sorrow fully, YET. I offer my advice and resources when asked. I remind myself everyone isn’t always open and ready to receive and use these resources.

And of course I CRY!!! I have learned it is vital to feel your emotions. Honor them, learn from them and move forward.  Otherwise any unfelt emotions can become a disease that can harm us on many levels.

What is one of your mom’s traits that you admire(d)?

I admire her generosity. She is a great example of how love is demonstrated through act of service toward others.  But two-fold it has also taught me that importance of self care. Finding a balance between doing for others while making sure my own needs are met as well. I admire her loyalty. She has currently become a caretaker to my dad who has Alzheimer’s. She has taken on this new role without hesitation and with love!

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When you think of your grandmother(s), what comes to mind?

Dessert! I really only knew my dad’s mom. And she believed anything could be fixed with a cookie. That no meal was finished until dessert was had. When I think of Grandma Ruth I think of a very strong woman who raised 6 children, who learned to drive at 50-years-old, and into her 90’s all the time with a smile on her face.

What time in your life do you feel was the most challenging?

The dark years from 25-33-years-old where I was depressed off and on, where I made choice about how to live that did not match my core values where the most challenging for me. It was like I was living two lives. At work and with family I was smart, kind, hardworking, happy and sober. At home I was sad, sometimes unkind, lazy, and high.

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Last but not least, how do you see yourself, & how do you want others to see you?

I see myself as a work in progress until the day I die. Another motto I try to live by, “Progress not Perfection!” How I see myself now may not be true in 5 years. I guess at this stage I would label myself as open to new ideas and experiences. I am  searching for what it means to be me, not me and my partner. I see myself as someone who is slowly gaining confidence in what I have authority over, the things I have experience in, my talents as an artist. How I want others to see me is easy. As LOVE! I want others to see me as a human that responded with love in every situation. Obviously this is a life-long goal I’m working on. I don’t want to be seen as Minnesota NICE but as Minnesota KIND. Because to be kind is not always nice. When being nice sometimes you lie about what is true for you to avoid hurting others. But in being kind you are honest and respectful in your responses to others, honoring what is true and alive in yourself and them at the same time. Kind = Love

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