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November 21, 2016

I tend to have my most revolutionary thoughts at night. Something to do with the quiet I think. It’s the only time of day my boys aren’t awake and tossing a football or jumping off of my couch. My husband goes to bed and the dog usually follows suit behind him or tucks himself up under my feet in my office. The evening soothes me. The late hours invite peace back into my usually worn down soul.

And y’all…that’s what I have been lately. Worn Down.


I love my job…I love the work that I do, with my whole heart. I am so passionate about what I get to wake up and do every day. But, I’m worn down, worn out and utterly exhausted from chasing after this idea of who I am supposed to be in this world.

Between the recent presidential election, the controversy surrounding Brandon & Jen Hatmaker, and just overall generally weariness, I am beyond over trying to pacify the rest of the world. Some of you have been here reading my blog and following my story since the beginning . Y’all can recall that this site and my journey has taken a lot of  twists and turns. I’ve jumped through a million hoops trying to find my voice and figure out my persona.

I’ve been through probably 500 different designs (what can I say it’s the downside of what I do) trying to find MY voice and my dynamic. I’ve written on a whole slew of topics and beaten around the bush trying to hammer out the wrinkles in who I am. Quite frankly it’s been exhausting.

For the last year or year and a half, I’ve kind of struggled with identity. Trying to figure out my path…my purpose…more than anything just trying to find myself. Being a military wife and a mama, there’s a lot of different ways in which I feel like I lose myself and just become a wife and a mom. I passed a kid in the hallway at Noah’s school the other day and he just said to me, “Hey Noah’s Mom!” Which I am proud to be, don’t get me wrong. I know they are children and don’t/can’t remember names. Totally get that. But, that’s who I have become.

Noah’s Mom. Jonah’s Mom. Josh’s wife.


Aside from that, my identity as an individual seemed to get a little clouded.

What feels like forever ago, I shut down my business out of fear of failure. Fear that sooner rather than later, someone would see that I’m not some spectacular genius who can sit and code websites at the drop of a hat and that I don’t have any kind of professional training or education in design. I just like to do it and earning an income for my family is an added bonus. So I bailed. I went to work with a designer who I admire. She had it all together and everyone knew her and her business and I could just kind of squeeze in with her and I’d be okay. I bailed on me. I bailed on myself and my abilities and my capabilities.

About 18 months ago, I put my camera down and refused to pick it back up. I had my iPhone with its camera and that was enough. I had been denied the “title” of Clickin Mom Pro and the rejection stung. Severely. I had my heart set on it (as I love both photography, editing, taking and teaching photography to others). When I was denied and then watched multiple people I knew get accepted, it broke me a little bit. Not because I’m some kind of sore loser or anything and can’t handle not getting my way…but because as crazy as it sounds, I felt like it was a direct denial of my worth. Internally. Rejection of me personally. 

I was reaching a point of not even recognizing who I was…who I am. I was letting outside factors get a hold of my internal mentality. Throw in learning that Noah has some special needs and a ransacking case of anxiety and you’ve got enough to bring almost any one to their knees. Finally, after much prayer, much more prayer and a whole lot of shed tears, my fog is lifting.

In the last couple of months, it’s like all kind of little buttons started to click in my head and I’m learning one very key factor to all of the things that I have struggled with for so long…

My identity doesn’t rest within the confines of this world…

It just doesn’t. It doesn’t rest in what people call me. It doesn’t rest in who I’m married to or what my children do. It doesn’t rest in whether I attain a certain yearly income. It doesn’t rest in whether or not I hit a sales quota each month. It doesn’t rest in who I work for. It doesn’t rest in what my web coding or photoshop skills look like. It doesn’t rest in how fast I can throw a website together. It doesn’t rest in what my personal website looks like and how “pretty” it is in comparison with everyone else’s. It doesn’t rest in whether I achieve PRO status in a photography forum. It doesn’t rest in a single thing that can be confined to this world.

My identity rests in Christ and in Christ alone.

All of that said…I’m revamping life in general.

If you haven’t noticed, my site got a new look (again). No more flowers and hearts and bells and whistles. Just me. I love with my whole entire creative heart the work of Shay Cochrane and her Poppy set of images. I do. Like, really really. But, I’m in limbo about whether those images are really me. Whether they speak to me as an individual. I love beautiful flowers. I love pink. I love white space…but I am not in any way shape or form a wearer of pink clothes or even brightly colored clothes. The majority of my clothes are dark-mostly shade of grey, black, brown, navy, and burgundy. I wear flip-flops and Ariat boots. I have maybe one or two pieces of jewelry that I wear when I get dressed up (aside from my wedding rings). I live in jeans and t-shirts. I’m not a frilly kind of person. I can be, but the every day me isn’t. I have boys. We rough house, play sports and get dirty.I wanted to emulate that on my site design.

I picked up my camera again for the first time in ages. It wasn’t until we had our family photos done by my friend Nicole that I realized just how much I missed creating images and capturing moments. Even if I never reach some sort of status based off of a grading curve (not knocking it…the women who achieve this CM Pro status are remarkably talented), that shouldn’t stop me from doing what I enjoy. Even if I don’t win any kind of award for any of my images, photography brings my soul to life. I enjoy it. I love to do it. It brings me joy to capture moments of my children. Will I reapply to Clickin’ Moms Pro? Absolutely. But with a set of images that are mine because they bring me joy. Not mine because they’re edited the way that people think they should be. My life is documented and messy. That’s who I am. I want to get back to teaching and mentoring aspiring documentarians the way that I used to.


In light of the recent Presidential election and the controversy surrounding Brandon & Jen Hatmaker, I am finding that my faith and what I believe could come under fire at any moment. I had someone make a comment on my personal Facebook page the other day about a statement I had made regarding the election results that actually made my heart happy…

I’ve always admired you for your way with words (especially on your blog)- you have a gift at expressing yourself. You have a strength and conviction that comes across and I know what you stand for.

This brought me a great sense of pride (not the ugly arrogant kind of pride). The women in my family are headstrong and vocal. Sometimes to a fault. It’s a quality that I inherited, buried and then allowed to resurface after my boys started to get older. Sometimes I think that it can be mistaken as being rude or being brash (and I’m working on that…the not coming across as rude or ugly part), but I take pride in authenticity and realism. While I work to make sure that any opinion I voice is based off of actual fact and not just feeling, I refuse to be silenced about things that matter to me and to my family. I refuse to silence my faith on account of everyone not agreeing with me. That’s the beauty and the power of free speech and (peaceful!) disagreement. I am one of those people who can disagree with you and still respect your opinion even if we don’t have the same views. Debate, democracy and faith are what makes America great.

All of that to bring me to this…

My life…my photos…my work…my writing…will be done and carried out in a fashion of complete authenticity. I refuse to live a life in which I have to apologize for being who God created me to be.

From this point on…I will be unapologetically me. My hardships, my struggles, my pain, my excitement, my photos, my design work, what I believe and don’t believe…all shown in a fashion of being true to who I am. It’s going to be exciting and I hope that you’ll continue to journey with me.

It feels great to be back.

I found this quote online and created the reminder for my phone…thought you guys might like it, too!
To save this file, click the image itself to open in a new window and download.

To save this file, click the image itself to open in a new window and download.

  1. […] shared a wee bit of my story last week on failure, falling and allowing myself to give up because things didn’t work out the way that I wanted.  I’ve had several images […]

  2. […] shared a wee bit of my story last week on failure, falling and allowing myself to give up because things didn’t work out the way that I wanted.  I’ve had several images […]

  3. Hali Quincey says:

    I love this… I understand this… I feel this… I needed this. Thank you for putting yourself out there and making me feel “normal”! I’ve been reading your posts throughout the years without you probably knowing. Keep being who God wants you to be!

    • Thank you so much for your encouragement on this!! I can’t tell you how much that means to me! I’m hoping and praying that, if nothing else, my unapologetic lifestyle will push others to embrace who they are and love who God made them to be! <3

  4. Alison says:

    Courtney, I’m proud of you for deciding to be you. It takes great courage to be authentic and genuine. The beauty of it is that when you do show up in the world just the way you were made, you shine brightly as the unique creation that you are! And I for one, am a fan.
    I’m convinced that if everyone took this brave step you are taking, God would have His way as each of us function to the fullest in our own capacity.

    And writing from a decade or so ahead of you (ahem, older) rest assured that some of the turmoil
    that you feel will continue to settle. It’s the lovely side of aging often not talked about.

    Put it out there. Be you. It’s who we like, and it’s who you were made to be.

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Courtney Kirkland is a Sacramento, California photography and design business. Since 2008, Courtney has passionately provided beautiful, meaningful documentary-style photography and intentional, high-quality design.  Value and celebrate the beautiful, messy, and uniquely-special moments of everyday living.