How to be a good mother, according to the internet.

Today I want to tell you a story about a mother who gave up her own hopes and dreams to give her children a chance to realize theirs. If this story sounds familiar to you, it’s because it’s the story of every “good” mother you’ve ever heard. The one where the exhausted woman nobly puts everybody else’s needs before her own. It’s an inspirational story that tells the love of a mother through perpetual expressions of sacrifice. I know you’ve already heard this story a million times, but if we don’t keep talking about this incredible mother, how will women everywhere know that this is what motherhood is supposed to look like?

Wait, fuck that story. I don’t want to tell that story.

I want to tell MY story.

And apparently my story is one of a selfish mother who “wants, wants, wants.”

I knew the second I clicked the “publish” button on my money post yesterday that I was going to receive some backlash and some hard criticisms. I published it anyway because those words are my truth right now. And that’s what I want this blog to be – my story, my truth, my experiences.

If you didn’t read my post, it was about how we’ve spent the last three and a half years struggling to make the dream of full-time travel work for us financially. To put it plainly – it’s been tough. Really tough. My husband and I both work from the road, as a freelance graphic designer and portrait photographer, respectively, and make just enough money to get from place to place, with not much extra left over after food, gas and other essentials.

Something I wish I had made a little bit more clear yesterday, though, is that we absolutely LOVE our jobs and nearly every aspect of traveling full-time with our kids. Our children have beds to sleep in, food in their bellies and nearly four years worth of incredible experiences as a family. They’re happy and healthy and are the smartest kids I’ve ever met. They spend their days reading, writing, drawing, painting, learning, exploring, hiking, swimming, building, making music and snuggling their brand new baby brother. We don’t make much money, but our kids are taken care of.

That said, our kids DO know that we’re struggling. We actually talk about the struggle with them all the time.

Why?

Because we want them to know that following your dreams is HARD. That it’s nearly impossible to succeed WITHOUT some kind of struggle.

The vast majority of the negative comments from yesterday said something like “a good parent would put their children before their own dreams.” A colleague of mine said “there’s so much ‘I want, I want’ in this article. What about what your children NEED?”

First of all, I won’t apologize for wanting to make my life better. I won’t apologize for wanting to be happy. I won’t apologize for wanting anything. We’re only alive for a short amount of time and I want to make the most of it. I want, I want, I want to live a fulfilling life. I know, as a mother, I’m not supposed to want anything except for my kids to be happy, but frankly, fuck that nonsense. Wanting to have a career, wanting to travel, wanting to be successful, wanting to make more money – all of these things are GREAT when men want them. As soon as a mother wants anything more, though, people purse their lips and shake their heads disapprovingly at the selfish woman who “needs to get her priorities straight.” For the sake of her children, of course.

And second, me chasing my dreams is EXACTLY what my children need! Can you imagine how much more confident, capable and prepared for a tough world our generation would be if our parents had chased their dreams, shown us some real, meaningful struggle to reach a goal and sent us out into the world having witnessed somebody taking bold chances to live a truly happy life? That’s what I’m giving my children.

As a society, we tell our kids they can be anything, do anything, achieve all their wildest goals. We tell them to reach for the stars, even though we stopped reaching for the stars ages ago. If our kids don’t SEE US pursuing our dreams, how can we ever expect them to be brave enough to pursue theirs? We pat ourselves on the back for all the sacrifices we make, when really we’re sending the worst kind of message that our own happiness is not worth fighting for.

What my children need is a happy mother.

Could I make more money by getting a “regular” job? Would we have more money if we stopped traveling? Possibly. My parents had regular jobs and we were always pretty broke. I also never saw them, don’t have any real, stand-out memories of fun stuff we did together, don’t think they ever enjoyed any jobs they ever had and don’t even know what they dreamt their lives might be like one day.

I want more for my children. They deserve more.

I want more for me. I deserve more.

And I’m still not apologizing.

xo, Sarah Q

…..

(Photo below of my poor, unhappy children at the Grand Canyon. 😂)

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Please stop saying (and believing) this money lie.

Dear friends, family and/or anybody who has talked or interacted with me at all since we started traveling full time nearly four years ago,

I apologize.

I meant well when I said it, but I was wrong and I am sorry.

I just didn’t want to be the kind of person who cares about stuff like that. The kind of person who needs money to be happy. I mean, what kind of person needs money to be happy?! ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE, FRIEND! All you need is to get outside, breathe in some fresh air, spend time with your kids! Go pet a dog! THAT DOESN’T COST ANYTHING! Climb a mountain! Swim in the ocean! THE BEST THINGS IN LIFE ARE FREE, YOU MATERIALISTIC FOOL!

“Money can’t buy happiness.”

Everybody knows that!

Bull-to-the-mother-fucking-shit.

Of all the inspirational, well-meaning (but total garbage) things I’ve ever said in my life, “money can’t buy happiness” sits right at the top of the trash can, like a flowery pink diaper, full of stank green baby shit.

I don’t know who coined that phrase, but if I’m guessing it was somebody with PLENTY of money who was unhappy and bored with their easy life of paying bills on time and buying groceries without having to check their bank balance first. They probably looked around their comfortable, clean house one day and were like WHY AM I SO UNHAPPY? LOOK AT ALL THESE EXPENSIVE THROW PILLOWS!

Why do I assume it was somebody with money?

Because being poor is the. fucking. worst.

When we set out to travel full time, I knew finances were going to be tight. My plan was to do family portraits all over the country, but when we drove off into the sunset on our very first travel day, I had ZERO sessions booked. All we had was the money we’d saved from selling all our stuff, and that wasn’t even enough to pay for one month of tent camping.

Was I worried? Honestly, not really. I had spent the last ten years of my life as a wedding photographer, making thousands of dollars per week, and was burned out, bored and desperate for some kind of adventure. Having money wasn’t making me happy, so I figured NOT having it for a while wouldn’t really be that big of a deal. (PLOT TWIST! I WAS THE LADY WITH THE THROW PILLOWS!) So off we went, broke but excited, ready to experience some REAL happiness.

And for a while, real happiness was exactly what we found. We hiked up mountains, swam in every body of water we could get to and camped out under the stars all over the United States. I booked just enough sessions to get us from city to city and we made barely enough money for food and gas, but the excitement of being in a beautiful, new place every week was enough to convince us that it was true : money really couldn’t buy happiness. We made less money in that first six months than we ever had before, but we were happier than we’d ever been.

That was in 2015.

Since then, we’ve visited nearly every state in the US, converted two old school buses into RVs and traveled internationally down to Mexico and up into Canada! We road tripped from Alaska all the way down to Cancun and have driven through scenes that looked more like postcards than real life. We’ve also camped out in a LOT of Walmart parking lots, been wearing the same broken old pairs of glasses for four years now, maxed out all our credit cards, paid hundreds of dollars in overdraft fees, tearfully borrowed money from family members and fallen behind on every single bill.

The thrill of full-time travel hasn’t worn off for us, but the romantic ideal of money not being important definitely has.

Money is important. And not having enough of it makes life incredibly difficult.

We’ve hustled and scrambled to make ends meet for nearly four years now and as much as I love this nomadic lifestyle of ours, I’m so sick of being poor. I’m sick of the constant worry and the nonstop stress. I’m sick of the helpless feelings, the guilt, the exhaustion. But most of all, I’m sick of the doubt I feel in myself.

I used to be fearless.

I used to be confident.

I used to think I was a badass who could do anything.

Being broke has broken me.

It’s hard to feel like a badass when you’re crying on the side of the road with a flat tire because you can’t afford to buy a new one. It’s hard to feel confident when you’re emailing every client you’ve ever worked with, praying that somebody books you soon because if not, you don’t know how you’ll buy groceries. Fearless? Yeah, right. I can’t even remember the last time I wasn’t worried about something money-related.

So why don’t we give it all up and go back to having regular jobs with regular paychecks? This past summer, a job opportunity opened up in our hometown that would have been PERFECT for me if we weren’t still traveling. The pay was good and the benefits sounded amazing. When I read the description out loud to my husband, he agreed it sounded like something I would love to do. I downloaded the application and for about ten minutes, I sat there thinking about how nice it would be to put all our bills back on auto-pay.

Then I started crying.

Traveling full time has been a dream come true for me. I didn’t want to give it up. I didn’t want a regular job. I wanted THIS job, my dream job. I didn’t want to live in one city. I wanted to live in ALL the cities. I wanted to see the world. I wanted to show my kids the world. I wanted to prove to myself and everybody else that I can do hard things. I wanted to be a confident badass again. And the only thing stopping me from feeling that way was MONEY.

At that moment, I knew money could absolutely buy me happiness, because making more money would allow me to keep living my dream life. Not having money almost forced me to give it all up. It almost forced me to settle.

But I don’t settle.

No, money doesn’t guarantee happiness. But not having money DOES guarantee a life of stress, worry, self-doubt and frustration. So, friends, can we please stop spreading the bullshit fantasy that you don’t need money to live a happy life. YOU DO. Exactly how much you need depends on what you want to do, but EVERYBODY’S life is easier and more fulfilling with money in the bank and it doesn’t make you a materialistic asshole to admit it.

I want to drive our bus across the country. I want to camp in actual campgrounds instead of parking lots. I want to take my kids to the fair and let them ride all the rides they want. I want to buy them new shoes before their old ones completely fall apart. I want to pay off my credit cards. I want to re-open my savings account. I want to pay my mom and sister back the money I owe them. I want to never ask them for money again.

I don’t want to feel broken anymore.

So this year, I’m changing the way I think about money, the way I talk about money and the way I feel about money. Time to be a fearless, confident badass again. Because I’m not ready to give up.

If you can relate, leave me a comment below telling me what you plan to do this year to make more money. My plan? Charge what I’m worth. Learn how to market. Blog more. Finally accept that I need to embrace social media to be successful. And of course, stop believing quotes from Pinterest. 😂

Can’t wait to hear from you, friends. LET’S DO THIS.

xo, Sarah Q

PS … this post received some pretty strong criticisms. Read my response here : How to be a good mother, according to the internet.

…….

(Photo below of my looking like a fearless, confident badass while working on our second bus conversion while eight months pregnant with baby number four!)

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Hecho en Mexico

After three years of full-time traveling and living in tiny spaces, we’ve gotten used to skipping the souvenirs. Every once in a while, though, we stumble onto something so special, we just can’t live without it. Want to see what we brought home from our four-month trip to Mexico?

I’ll give you a hint : it’s bigger than a plate of tacos, but smaller than a coconut. (At least for now!) 😂

Friends and family, I’d like to introduce you to baby Fitz , due just one week before Christmas! I’m currently 18 weeks pregnant, feeling great and so excited to meet our newest little adventurer.

To answer the questions you’re probably thinking : YES! We do plan to keep on traveling! We figure we’ve made it work with three kids, why would it be any different with four? We’ll be in Texas until the baby is born, but plan to get right back on the road in February of 2019. And YES, the kiddos are super excited, too. They’ve actually been begging for a baby brother or sister for years, but I don’t think they ever expected to actually get one. Ray is really looking forward to wearing the baby carrier on hikes, Kai says he won’t hold him because babies are way too fragile and Marley says she’s gonna teach him how to swim. We’ll see about all three of those things soon enough. 😂

Can’t wait to share more! Be sure to follow me on my @sarahQ Instagram account for belly updates, maternity pictures that’ll be taken by my awesome friend Lisa Woods, and probably about a million baby photos come December. Until then, here’s the first ever portrait of our family of six, drawn by Marley, age 8. ❤

Thanks for your love and support, friends!

The Q Family (OF SIX!)

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I’m Expensive

The only sugar coating I like is on donuts. When it comes to money, I’d rather be told exactly what I can expect to pay for something and why that something is worth the amount of money being asked for it.

So to get right to the point, YES. My photography services and the products I sell are expensive. 

Family portrait photography is my full time job and I’m damn good at what I do. Photographing children is not for the faint of heart. Crying babies, wild toddlers, fighting siblings, frustrated dads, exasperated moms. You have your hands full just trying to get everybody to the shoot in one clean, well-dressed piece. You shouldn’t have to worry about getting them all to look in the same direction, much less look happy while they’re doing it.

That’s my job.

I am a master at turning chaos into creativity.

I’m also a master at helping you decide just how to preserve and display your family’s chaos. Albums, wall art, framed portraits, canvas prints, cards – all of the printed products we grew up loving that seem to have gone extinct in this new social media driven world. Those are the products I want you to fill your home with.

“People are taking more pictures now than ever before. Billions of them. But there are no slides, no prints. Just data. Electronic dust. Years from now, when they dig us up, there won’t be any pictures to find. No record of who we were or how we lived.” – a quote from the film ‘Kodachrome.’

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

How many CDs, flash drives or Facebook galleries do you have full of photos that have never been printed? If you’re like most people, I’m guessing you have a lot. Printing photos is an overwhelming process. Choosing your favorites, knowing which images would look best framed and which would look best in an album, choosing a lab or an album printer, understanding how to crop and resize your photos. These are all things the average person struggles with.

Because these things are MY JOB. Not yours.

I know where to order gorgeous photo albums that your children, grand children and great grandchildren will cherish. I know which photos are perfect for canvas and which ones will look best in a custom glass print box by your bed. I also know how stressful all these decisions can be, which is why I will be there to walk you through the entire process, step by step, to make sure you end up with incredible photo products you would run through a burning house to save.

Let me help you.

I want you to have prints. I want you to have albums. I want you to have something you can hold and touch and feel. I want your walls  and shelves filled with gorgeous photos that make you smile every time you walk into the room.

You deserve all those things and I can help you get them.

People justify expensive purchases all the time. The phone or computer you’re reading this on. The TV on your living room wall. That trip to Target that somehow added up to $400 even though you only went in for a candle. (Every. single. time.) The car in your driveway that you’ll own for less than 10 years. None of these things will be passed on to your children, much less your grandchildren’s children.

Yes, professional portraits are expensive. But they’re the only splurge you’ll keep forever. The only splurge that will get more valuable with every passing year. The only splurge that you’ll never, ever regret.

Let’s make something beautiful.

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Not lost, just wandering.

On June 5, 2015, we drove out of Austin with a couple hundred dollars in the bank, an SUV full of camping equipment and exactly zero jobs lined up. We had no backup plan, no reservations. Hell, we had never even tried setting up our tent. (The tent we were planning to live in for six months!) Looking back now, I realize what a huge risk we were taking. But at the time, it just felt right.

Have you ever reached your breaking point? You know, the point where you just can’t take it anymore. Where you can’t handle your shitty job, your broken relationship or your boredom with life for another second. I can tell you the exact moment I reached that point. I was in the bathtub, of all places, reading a book. I loved long baths and would sometimes soak for so long, I’d have to drain and refill the tub because the water had gotten cold. That night I was reading a book about how to grow your business by taking bold risks. I’d been running a successful wedding photography business for almost ten years at that point, but was more than a little bit burned out. I was making a decent amount of money and had a flexible schedule. Our kids had all the toys and clothes and snacks they wanted. We took vacations a couple of times a year and everybody was generally happy and healthy. But I was so bored. If you had asked me what my biggest goal was that day, I would have said “to lose weight.” Not to climb a mountain. Not to see glaciers in Alaska or whale sharks in Mexico. Not to become a published author or famous actress. Not to run a marathon or become a millionaire. MY BIGGEST GOAL WAS TO LOSE WEIGHT. That’s how boring my life had become.

So, I was in the tub, reading this book about taking risks and for whatever reason, one line almost moved me to tears. Not because it was so profound or beautifully written. No. To be honest, this line is cliché as fuck. You could go to Pinterest right now, search for it and find a hundred inspirational posters with these exact words. But these words found me at the exact moment I needed to read them :

Fortune favors the bold.

If you had asked me to describe myself at 21, I would have said bold. When I was younger, I had such a grand vision for my life. But 14 years later, I was a 35 year old fat lady soaking in a tub of room temperature water, crying at how boring my life had become. That was my breaking point. Something had to change.

Less than a year later, I woke up early and looked out the window. There was a line of people from our doorstep, all the way down the sidewalk past the neighbor’s house. A few days before, I had put an ad in the Craigslist’s yard sale section that said we were opening doors at 8:00am and everything we had left was free to whoever grabbed it first. We’d already had three huge yard sales that month, but our living room was still full of clothes, shoes, books, toys and picture frames. When we opened the door, people flooded in like Walmart on Black Friday and within 15 minutes, everything was gone. We had sold or given away nearly everything we owned and were making plans to be a traveling family of five, living and working from the road for as long as we could make it work.

How’s that for bold?

Driving out of Austin that day in June wasn’t scary. It was exciting. I knew it was the beginning of something big, something bold. Most people don’t realize they’re in the best years of their lives until after they’ve lived them. One day they look back and think “those were the good ol’ days.” It’s very rare to recognize those moments as they’re happening. I recognized it that day. I felt it. We were finally living the stories we would tell our grandkids one day.

At the end of 2015, after six months of camping, we bought an old school bus and turned it into an RV, complete with water tanks, solar electricity and a very high tech composting toilet made from a bucket and a toilet seat. (JEALOUS?!) For the next two years, we lived and traveled the country in our big, blue bus, criss-crossing the United States from California to Alaska, all the way across Canada to Maine, back down to Florida and Texas, passing through and meeting families in just about every single state. In June of 2018, we celebrated three years of full-time travel. Three years of hiking, swimming and exploring with our kids. Three years of campfires, beach days, mountain lakes, big cities and small towns. Three years of experiences and adventures. Three years of being bold. And three blissful years of not giving a single fuck about weight loss.

In 2018, we sold the bus, bought an old Volkswagen van and headed south into Mexico. After four months of blue-green water and cheap margaritas, we came back with a few souvenirs : some Mexican coins, a few small toys … oh, and baby number four, due in December. Fortune really does favor the bold.

Living and working from the road is not always easy. Both our minds and our vehicles have had their fair share of breakdowns. We’ve gotten stuck. We’ve run out of money. We’ve “camped” in more Walmart parking lots than I’d like to admit. The kids still complain.

My life isn’t perfect these days, but it’s far from boring.

This website was created for me to share these stories with you, along with the stories of all the families I meet and photograph along the way, and I’m so excited to start doing just that. Please be sure to follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you’re notified whenever I post something new. I absolutely love meeting new people and would love to meet you, too. So book a family session, leave me a comment, drop me an email or just say hello if you happen to bump into us on the road.

And if you’re getting close to your breaking point, don’t be afraid. Sometimes breaking is exactly what we need.

 

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