Meet Author & Eco-Mom Helen Coronato

crop_web_photo-112x154.jpgRole Mommy: What did you do before you became a mom?
Helen: Sleep in. And…I was a middle school Language Arts teacher and then a public librarian in the Children’s Room.
Role Mommy: When did you decide to reinvent your life?
Helen: When I was a kid, I wanted nothing more than to become a writer. I envisioned myself in the cozy, private nook of my stone cottage working beneath a window that looked out on an English garden where I carefully labored over each word of my soon-to-be-released, best-selling children’s picture book.
Skip to the present.
There is no stone cottage (we own new construction). There is no English garden (I have a black thumb). There are no picture books (though there are children). There is no private corner (see children). BUT, there are books–wonderful nonfiction books that have given me the opportunity to be both teacher and student; which, if we are really fortunate, is what the best experiences always do.
I am so grateful that I am an author. There is nothing I wanted more when I was a kid; there is nothing I want more now. And because I am a mother who wants her children to turn their dreams into reality, I thought I should start with myself first.
Role Mommy: How have your children influenced your career path? How many do you have?
Helen: Once upon a time, not so long ago, I shopped, cooked, and cleaned for myself. And I don’t just mean myself, as in, there was no one else in my family. I mean myself, as in, there was no one else in the world. I drove my car everywhere without ever considering my dependence on foreign oil. I drank expensive coffee in Styrofoam cups daily. Cleaning my apartment meant spraying the entire place with an all-purpose, bleach-based disinfectant that I wiped up with a roll of paper towels that and I then threw into the garbage can, along with cans, bottles, and old magazines. My concerns were, well, my concerns; a selfish attitude, I now know.
Flash-forward to this weekend, and you’ll find me checking labels for the USDA’s organic approval, opting for green tea in my recycled thermos, and mixing one part vinegar with three parts water to clean my kitchen.
Why the change? I have two reasons: Michael and Thomas, my sons. Before I became a parent, my needs were personal comfort and cheap convenience. Then I became a mother and wanted nothing more than for my children’s needs to be met. Instead of being solely focused on my own desires, I began to focus on the health and happiness of the two people I had just met. I always thought that being a parent meant that you were the most important teacher in the world. Then I became a parent and I realize it means that you are the most important student in the world. My children have shaped my life in ways I could have never imagined and to them I am eternally grateful.
Role Mommy: What’s your favorite “Time Out” tip for moms (taking time for yourself)
Helen: Treat yourself like a union represented toddler. Sit down and have a morning and afternoon snack to keep your energy up. And take a fifteen minute break everyday to have a cup of tea, flip through a magazine or close your eyes. If you want your children to learn healthy habits for taking care of themselves, you have to take care of yourself.
Role Mommy: What does your website offer moms or kids?
Helen: Knowing that an eco-friendly lifestyle works best when everyone actively participates, I designed family focused activities to make going green a way of life that is both fun and functional and am happy to share my book Eco-Friendly Families with everyone from experienced “greenies” to first time recyclers. Information about green workshops and special events I am involved in are posted.
Additionally, below are some of my professional projects:
– I host a monthly internet radio talk show called A Novel Idea: Stories Behind the Bookshelves where I interview authors, editors, illustrators and agents about today’s publishing market.
– I facilitate writing workshops and presentations for aspiring authors
– I have a monthly newsletter to showcase great products, happenings, special events and new projects
– I am currently at work on my fourth book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Raising a Strong Willed Child
Role Mommy: What do you hope for your own kids?
Helen: That they will always feel connected to a community and find honor, integrity and fulfillment in the role they play – whether they are a cashier or a king.
Role Mommy: Who is your Role Mommy?
Helen: Right now, it’s the woman I saw at the supermarket the other day. She was halfway to the entrance with a child holding each hand when she stopped in her tracks, turned around, and went back to her car to get her reusable bags. That is someone who is walking the walk. That’s who I want to be.