Suzanne Heintz has enjoyed a lovely, admirable relationship with her husband of 14 years and their 9-year-old daughter. They take vacations regularly to the mountains and recently returned from a picturesque trip to France. And they’ll be renewing their wedding vows in an upcoming wedding ceremony. However, communication is one sided, since her husband, Chauncey, and their daughter, Mary Margaret are very, very quiet. They are, well… mannequins.
Suzanne bought her family from a retail liquidation center in Colorado in 1999. She was fed up with everyone asking her when she was going to get married and have children, so she decided to take matters into her own hands. While “Life Once Removed” originated as an answer to society (and her mother’s) constant question about marriage, Suzanne is very pleased that her story is empowering women worldwide.
It started with yearly pictures of beautiful family winter scenes that she’d send out as Christmas cards. Every year, she tried to elaborate and portray even more of a “perfect family,” an idea that came from the Christmas cards that she was receiving. Suzanne is a talented photographer, and her Familyquins gradually turned into a mix of comedy, art, social criticism and fun.
Then the travels started — yearly summer vacations to the mountains within driving distance of Denver, CO, and last summer they all went abroad for a trip to Paris. After all, it’s known to be one of the most romantic cities in the world. But, don’t let her perfect pictures fool you. Traveling around France with Familyquins was no easy task. And the rain didn’t help.
View her video above to see what it was like walking around Paris with her husband on her shoulders and how the French responded.
In a recent, delightful conversation, Suzanne told me, “I’m paying attention to what my life means to me without all of the rules. I want to decide myself what is meaningful and what it means for my life to feel successful. I want to make my own choices. I’m not married. So what? I didn’t die. That’s the important thing. I have companionship and human value. I just don’t need to be married to be OK. I don’t need the label.”
What’s next for Suzanne? After her wedding ceremony with renewal vows, she’ll enjoy some quiet time at home with Chauncey before her movie and book, Playing House, are released. In the last chapter of the book, Mary Margaret goes to school. It explores the effect of our expectations on the next generation.
Suzanne shared, “I love to travel to foreign countries. I’ve noticed that people in Nepal, India and Vietnam feel like they belong wherever they are. They aren’t trying to be elsewhere. But, in our culture, we have all the trappings of success in this world and none of the happiness. In the third world, they have all the happiness and none of the trappings. I’m just focused on being wherever I am that brings me happiness.”
What do you think about Suzanne’s answer to society’s never-ending question of single women “of a certain age”? Thanks for sharing your thoughts in a comment below and for sharing on Facebook.
Lisa Spector March 31, 2014 5:03 pm Care2 Greenliving March 31, 2014