Mariana Llanos describes herself as a “go-getter,” but not a super mom. However, the metro mom has a rather super list of accomplishments. She’s a mother of three, an accomplished author and a community volunteer.
A native of Peru, Mariana has lived in Oklahoma City for 13 years and raised all her children here. Sons Fabio and Andre are 11 and 8 years old and daughter Alana is 3. Her husband’s job in the oil and gas industry originally brought them to Oklahoma from Peru.
“I am Peruvian,” Mariana explains with a smile, “but I am also made in Oklahoma.”
Fluent in Spanish and English, Mariana is an independent author with four published books for children, and a fifth is coming out early in 2015. In addition to being a hands-on parent, Mariana has a busy work life, too, acting as her own agent and being responsible for her own publishing, public relations and marketing.
“Having a creative outlet gives me balance,” she said. “My kids are going to look at me, hopefully they will be inspired. I’m chasing a dream for them. It doesn’t matter how old you are, you can chase your dream. Be persistent and consistent, and maybe that will take you places.”
Mariana has a passion for reading and writing, and she models by example for her own children by reading around them and sharing her stories with them. Writing has always been a part of Mariana’s life, even as a child in Lima. Her background in drama and theater has been an asset in fostering her creative side. After moving to Oklahoma and becoming a mom, Mariana felt the calling to turn her stories into books and her prime audience is children.
“I had never written in English before,” Mariana said. “Inside me, I knew that I wanted to write something that my kids would read, so maybe that is why my inspiration was coming in English. I knew that I had something that I really wanted to share.”
All her books are offered in English, with two currently available in Spanish and the other two pending translation.
“I kept telling myself that one day I would publish a book, but then I realized that there is never a right moment to do things,” she said. “I decided that I’m going to do this, and from that moment it’s been non-stop.”
When Mariana’s not writing, she’s spending time volunteering at her kids’ schools. She coordinates special events and pitches in with teacher appreciation at their campuses, and goes beyond that at schools throughout the metro to foster a love of reading and writing in every classroom. She offers free visits to local schools and Skype visits to global classrooms to share her love of literature with kids. Online video chats have connected Mariana to schoolchildren in countries such as Pakistan and Canada. When visiting classes, Mariana strives to be a resource to teachers by engaging students in the writing process and letting students know that anyone has what it takes to be an author.
“What I love is to read to children, talk to children and inspire them,” she said. “When kids leave my classroom, they are excited about writing and reading. They realize ‘I can be a writer, too.’”
Mariana actively engages in social media and online communities, writing blogs and managing her own website, www.marianallanos.com. Mariana’s books are available online at www.amazon.com and also at Full Circle Bookstore. Her books cover fun and magical aspects, but have educational elements, as well.
Her love of literacy spills into every area of life. Read more about the accomplished author.
How has motherhood changed you?
It has changed everything, especially the way I see the world. Now, I’m grounded, I know where I want to go. I have those little kids looking up at me as if I was a superhero. And for them, I am. That’s a huge responsibility. I’m conscious that they’re always looking at me and they’re learning from me. I model the behavior that I want them to have. But not everything is responsibility and pressure. They have also brought out the sweet and tender side of me.
What is your best advice about parenting?
Enjoy them while they are young, they grow up too fast!
What is your guilty pleasure?
Facebook. I spend far more time than I should there, but I love that it keeps me connected with old friends and with family.
How do you find balance?
By setting my priorities. When I feel that everything around me is getting too overwhelming, I stop to think: What is the most important thing right now? What could wait? If I don’t do this right now, will there be any consequences? That helps me focus on what’s really important at the moment. Sometimes I load myself with so many things to do. I have to remind myself that I’m not a supermom, I’m just a human who is doing her best.
What makes you feel proud?
My children, of course! They are well-behaved, respectful and smart. Every little thing they accomplish is a big deal for us as a family. I’m also proud of the school visits I do. It’s such a rewarding feeling when you see those kids’ eyes sparkle, and I know that I have inspired them to create and write.
What is your biggest challenge?
To prepare my kids for the real world. I want them to grow up to be good people, kind, honest and resilient. I want them to realize they can accomplish anything if they set their mind to it. The rest will come. I think that’s why I’m writing and publishing books. It’s not easy, but I want to give them the example that dreams are meant to be chased.
What is on your wish list?
A family trip to Florida, just like we did this year. Also, the ability to share more of my books with children around the world. That would be a dream come true.
How do you banish stress?
Reading! It does wonders for stress levels. Nothing better than getting lost in a book and living someone else’s adventures. I also enjoy the company of friends and family.
What would your friends or family say everyone else doesn’t know about you?
Maybe that I like to karaoke, dance and everything that has to do with music.