Wednesday, March 8, 2017

I want to be a blogger, now what?


A little over year ago I began my blogging adventure; just an English major with a love for words, for God, and a desire to use my words to connect my own story with others.  I went from 500 followers to 8,000 in a year and five months-and I have gotten several messages from other aspiring bloggers about the best way to begin their own blogging adventure or to go deeper into the blogging world. 
I must say that I still am quite new to this whole world but I am happy to share with you some of the things I found to be important and helpful. 

1. What are your goals?
I think this is always a great place to start when diving into any new creative project. There are many ways to set these goals out. A Dream Board(my personal favorite version, I have a cute chalk board from target), journaling, or getting a scheduler are all excellent ways to list out your goals. 

Why do you want to blog?
There is no wrong answer here. What is motivating you to share your ideas and thoughts? 

What is your message? 
Branding is a big part of blogging, and being consistent is important.
Are you writing about life as a Mom?
Are you a political activist?
Are you a photographer or artist?
Are you going to share how to DIY projects?
Are you going to write about your faith? Your chronic illness? 
Are you going to share your favorite meal plans?

Yes, you can definitely be a blogger who has many messages, but I would recommend picking two or three things that are your main topics. Something that you are passionate about. 

Who is your audience?
Who do you want to read your blog? Moms? Christians? Atheists? Republicans? Social Activists? Millennials? Fellow military wives? Stay at home fathers? 
Who is most likely to read what you are writing or sharing?  This is important to be able to write and present things in a way that is appealing to the audience that you desire to connect with. 

2. Content! 
Once you have figured out your goals and what you want your blog to be you need to pick a website in which to host your site. I recommend if you are serious about your blog to pay for your own domain. 

Here are some popular blogging sites: 
www.blogger.com
www.wordpress.com 
www.wix.com
www.squarespace.com (I am most likely going to be transitioning here very soon) 

As far as design is concerned, I think that simplicity and personality is key! Pick a layout, color, font and pictures that really represent your personality but also do not overdue it. You want it to be inviting, personal and not cluttered. 
If you can afford it, hiring a web designer would 100% be worth it.

How often are you going to post to your blog? Weekly? Biweekly? Monthly? Pick an amount and commit to consistently posting content to your blog. 

Are you a writer?
Now it's true you do not need to be an excellent writer to be an excellent blogger. For instance you could mainly post photos, videos, recipes etc., but I do think that honing in writing skills is definitely going to make your blog more appealing. If you have the time take an English or Creative Writing Class, or hire a tutor to help improve your writing if you feel lacking in that department.
A book I personally love on writing is On Poetry by Glyn Maxwell. While that book is specifically on how to write poetry the author gives some really wonderful exercises at the end of each chapter.  Journal everyday, write letters, and I cannot emphasize this enough: read as much as you can. 
Read the writers that you admire and desire to be more like and I promise it will show in your writing. Examine what it is about the way they convey things that engages you. Can you imitate it? 
When all else fails you can hire a copywriter, which is someone who writes content for you website. 

Professional Photos and/or Design
I would suggest hiring a professional photographer to take lifestyle shots of you/the things you are writing about, or finding someone to design images for your content. This will make your website look professional, and will come in handy with other forms of social media (which I will discuss later). 

3.  Tags, Instagram, and Facebook
Ok great, you have your goals, content and now you need to get the word of your blog out! 
In your blog you should be able to label or tag subjects that you are writing about.

I have found that the majority of my readers come from Instagram (this is where those wonderful professional photos will come in handy) and using hashtags of subjects you are writing on, from online communities that you are joining, and use those consistently.  

Post cohesive pictures on Instagram, similar colors, shapes, and photos. 
Follow similar accounts to yours, and engage with them, get to know these fellow bloggers and be in online community with them. 

Share your posts publicly on Facebook and even ask if your friends who like your posts, if they would be willing to share it.

4. Have fun, be yourself and be kind. 
The internet can be an overwhelming place and I think the most important
aspect of joining the online community is to make sure you are enjoying yourself, that you are able be  your authentic self (you don't need to try and be anyone other than your beautiful self) and always remember to be kind, never say something that you wouldn't say to someones face. 

I am available to hire for Social Media Consulting or Copywriting if you'd like support on this journey and a more personalized game plan. Email me at: trista.eazell@gmail.com for pricing and to connect. 

Happy Blogging! 



Photo Credit: http://www.alyssaluzaichphotography.com



Friday, February 17, 2017

chronic illness: my struggle with endometriosis


hey friends, thank you so much for taking the time to read this today it truly means the world to me. 
many of you have been so wonderful in sharing in my journey the past year and a half as i have navigated some really rough waters with my life and health and your prayers and encouragement has meant the world to me. i have always desired my blogging and media to be a place where i am truthful to real life as i know what it is like to feel alone in my struggles and i want others to know that they are not alone. but I must confess: this post has taken me almost a year to write. 

as many of you know i was diagnosed with the 'invisible illness' of fibromyalgia at a young age, and have dealt with chronic pain and a compromised immune system for the majority of my life. this has been in many ways my cross to bear and even though it has made life very difficult it has also taught me the sacredness of every breath. it has forced me to learn to quiet my body and soul and to be ok with observing the world when everyone else is moving rapidly around me. i came to peace with my circumstances many years ago. i stopped looking for a miracle and learned to just exist as i was.

 i am about to share something that has a lot of stigma around it; women often feel as if they will make men uncomfortable or receive judgement from other woman who cannot understand, and I desire to make this an easier conversation to to have with all who share in our human experience. men, please read on and don't feel weird about any questions you may have, and women who don't understand-i hope that you can empathize with the feeling of loneliness that an isolating event can create. April of 2016 i woke up in the middle of the night with the sharpest of pain shrieking through my abdomen into my uterus  and down my legs. i couldn't move and felt as if i was either going to throw up or pass out. i have experienced a lot of bad pain in my life, but nothing quite as severe as this. my period started a few hours after that pain and i made an immediate appointment to see an OBGYN. it is not uncommon for a woman to have cysts develop in her uterus, erupt and cause extreme pain. i assumed that was what had happened. the doctor ran tests and asked me a lot of questions. they performed an ultrasound to see if a cyst had erupted. there were no signs of cysts.

the doctor then very calmly and gently explained to me that my symptoms sounded incredibly like endometriosis. endo (I will call it that from here on out) is an autoimmune disease and chronic pain condition that affects about six percent of women. the skin that sheds and is within your uterus for an unknown reason begins to grow outside of the uterus and causes extreme pain (it feels like a million little swords stabbing you from the inside out and like an extra weight of gravity is pulling you down to hell), exhaustion, premenstrual dysphoric disorder  (moodiness, depression, and depression that is directly correlated with your cycle), it can create scar tissue, sex can be painful, in some cases it can prevent a woman from having children of her own, and there is no known cure. 
I
at first, i hoped that it was a misdiagnosis. that i just had a really bad month with my fibromyalgia. but the symptoms did not go away or get less...then got worse and more consistent.

the  following months were h a r d. i often had to call in sick to work or school, changed my diet severely and had a flood of new emotions that made feel as if i lost complete control of my self. now, dealing with an invisible and incurable disease is not new to me. that part wasn't what was difficult. however, having the exhaustion and frustration of baring two chronic pain diseases is not something i would wish on my worst enemy. i knew how to live with one, but two? i suddenly became the girl who couldn't commit to anything (I hated that kind of girl) and had to schedule my every day around the severity of my pain. i couldn't sleep. i also felt so awkward talking about what was wrong with me. women problems still did not seem like something that was safe to talk about. if i bought "woman products" at the store and the clerk was a guy, he would refuse to make eye contact with me. i did find ways to open up to people around me about what was going on, and i got a variety of answers. many men were uncomfortable BUT they often did seek to understand it better and I found that many women that i loved dearly dealt with the same pain secretly. 

it is weird that in 2017 this is something that isn't talked about much. we all (well hopefully) understand biology and that women have a beautfiul and complex reproductive system that can unfortunately have many things go wrong. with each and every passing day i have felt the fear i have surrounding sharing how this disease has changed my life-begin to fade. i never want fear to keep me from sharing something that may help others feel as if they are not alone. if you struggle with endo or any other illnesses email me and i would be happy to share the things that i have found be helpful and or just be there to hear your fears and thoughts out. we are never as alone as we think we are. 

i would like to tell you that it is a journey that gets easier with time, but i'm not sure i can honestly give you that answer. there are some days that are much easier and some days where i can't get out of bed, am frustrated and am the worst friend in the world. i am trying many different treatments and have to stay on a pretty strict diet. that never gets easier. god's grace has been my key to survival and it's only in learning to be ok with the fact that there are many days were i am NOT ok that i have been able to find the push to keep moving forward. there is no right or wrong way to feel about having your world crumble, you just feel it and you crumble with it. and then you get back up. you have no choice.  

life is really complicated isn't it? there are never going to be moments in life where everything
is perfect but thats what makes us human. we aren't god. we are flawed and beautiful. life is built up of light, darkness and every shade of shadow in between. we cannot be in control of what happens to us but we can learn how embrace it all with hope that like fireflies we will store up the light and let it go when the darkness sets in. our light may not dissolve the night, but it does make it more beautiful. 

thank you so much for reading all of this; it's scary being this vulnerable. ask me any and all questions that you may have.

 may god bless and keep you.

trista ann marie eazell

Sunday, January 15, 2017

if god is good, why is there pain?








If God is good, why is there pain?


This question is the most haunting, and loudest screaming when the lights go off and I'm left alone with my own thoughts and fears.

It's strange, for someone so anxious I have no fear of death, but I am incredibly afraid of pain. Physical. Emotional. Maybe it's because I'm no stranger to pain, riddled with a painful disease since I was a child. Maybe it's because I feel so deeply, that my heart doesn't simply chip when it's sad, it completely crumbles. If I cry, I pull the tears from my toes. Even more than my own pain, I cannot stand when I see others suffer.


Perhaps I'm so afraid of pain, simply because I'm human. Whatever the reason is, it haunts me like a ghost in an English moor.


Many beautifully articulate pastors, mystics, and philosophers have expressed this much better than I, and I recommend reading them and coming to your own conclusions (email me I have a list of books you may be interested in), but just in case the musings of a fragmented millennial might strike a cord in your own quest, I will try and explain the fragile conclusions I have wrestled into existence.

I have with shaking hands held these three arguments and only one has held me back.

1. If God is good, and pain exists in your life it's because your faith is not strong enough.


This ideology has been believed by many for thousands of years, even in the ancient book of Job-his wife and friends insinuate that Job must have unrepentant sin in his life. As a child there were times when I was convinced if I prayed and REALLY believed it that my body would be healed and I would be like all the other children. If the right person with the right amount of faith prayed for me, I would be healed. I was never healed. I have been sick and in pain for fourteen years, and if this statement were true MAN my faith must be tiny. I must be destined for hell. Oh wait. Did not Jesus suffer? Did not Lazarus? David? Moses? Elijah? Paul? Isaiah? Hosea? Shoot even more modern men and women of God with admirable faith have suffered much, Charles Spurgeon dealt with great depression and anxiety. C.S. Lewis lost the love of his life much too early. Elizabeth Elliot's husband and friends were brutally murdered. I beg of you, show me a man or woman of God who has not suffered and I will give you a $1,000,000 right on the spot. Christ, Paul and James assure us that to live is to know suffering. No this ideology of lack of faith slipped quickly through my hands. It could not be true. Yes, God does sometimes take away suffering through prayer. But sometimes he doesn't, and that is not a reflection of faith. It cannot be.

2. God isn't good, or real, we just exist and suffer and there's no purpose.


This is the idea that creeps in my mind at 4am and causes me to despair. God are you really there? Do you care? Are you good? How can you watch this? How can you see your children hurt and do nothing about it? These questions have led many to agnosticism or atheism. We saw this plummet quickly into the hearts of many during and after WWI and WWII Faith in a God who could let war, diaspora, and disease riddle the planet began to seem useless, and even Utopian to many. Modernism and Post-Modernism is filled with this pessimistic,broken and relative morality and ethics. A world built around this truth has begotten an increase of genocide, the birth of the atomic bomb, and political untruths accepted with open arms. If we live in a god-forsaken world as Nietzsche and Samuel Beckett have mused, then we are all there is. This life is it. A hopeless mess spinning on a dying planet. This was not an answer I could accept, because beauty still exists and I have glimpsed heaven too many times in the laugh of a child and the rising of the sun to accept that our spirits were limited to this broken world. My spirit was stirring and beckoning me to fight for a life beyond what I could see, and the idea that God was not good, or real slipped from my hands.

3. God is good, but the world is not good.

What if, God mourns with us and hates the pain and evil MORE than us? What if He could stop it all with a whisper, but doesn't because He is good? I know this is an oxymoron BUT hang on with me a little further. Let us rewind to one of the first Bible stories most of us learn, back when Noah was commissioned to build a boat and save his family and two of the chosen animals? Because the world was evil and needed a restart? Well God made a promise that day

I promise every living creature that the earth and those living on it will never again be destroyed by a flood. The rainbow that I have put in the sky will be my sign to you and to every living creature on earth. It will remind you that I will keep this promise forever.

The problem of evil was not eradicated by the flood. But a good God does not delight in suffering or destruction of creation. Evil exists in all of our hearts. We are all victims of the fall, cursed to this earth that has suffered disease and reproach due to the sins of our forefathers...and of ourselves. We have all at one point or another chosen to lie, steal, love ourselves more than others, hate, and act on selfish ambition, and sin does not simply effect the sinner, but effects the whole earth. With tears and angry bellows I have held and almost thrown away this idea. Wait, so God let's us be destructive and destroyed in order to save us? He carefully crafted each of us body, spirit and mind-fully knowing we were capable of evil and/or loving Him, He has weighed the pros and cons and has decided that He wants to continue to give us all a chance to choose Him. To know Him. And He promises to one day restore all things. We mean THAT much to Him. While He continues to weep, and hate our suffering and the suffering we inflict with a perfect hatred, His love and desire to know us is MUCH bigger.


Sometimes this idea is really hard for me, but other days I can say without a doubt it is the only reason I continue on. It's hope, and hope is a very precious thing that dares to hold you close. Hope is what awakens the soul to soar above the brokenness. This hope doesn't diminish my suffering or yours, but in fact makes it worth something. Our suffering and sin is not to be wasted, if we let Him, it can become the building blocks to our own rebirth. This good God takes what was meant for destruction and creates for us a lifetime Masterpiece. It's grace. It's mercy. It's the most trying and difficult paradox. It both wounds and heals us. I am convinced that God is much more complex than we will ever comprehend in this life, and the idea of God letting a world opposed to His goodness still exist is something we must patiently wait to understand. I have a long road ahead of me and I may one day decide that this conclusion is total bollocks, but for now this is the conclusion I hold onto.






photo by Alyssa Luzaich

Sunday, January 1, 2017

will the real jesus christ step forward? i, repeat, will the real jesus christ step forward?


 Two and a half years ago I went from a floundering, doubting and searching girl to someone who encountered the Divine in a way that completely turned my world upside down. To know of God and to know God has a remarkably deep and wide chasm in between each other, and the journey truly only really begins when you finally cross that chasm. I have tried many times and failed terribly to try and express what discovering the real Jesus has looked like for me.

What do I mean, about the real Jesus? Well, take a look around: there's Catholic Jesus, Evangelical Jesus, Mystic Jesus,  white Jesus,homeboy Jesus,  right wing Jesus, leftist Jesus, communism Jesus, hippie Jesus, black tie Jesus, mini-van sticker Jesus, hipster Jesus...oh the list echoes on. It seems we all find ways to make "our personal Jesus" fit our beliefs and identity. Wait. This can't be right. If Jesus is truly the Son of God and Man, shouldn't it be the other way around? Shouldn't we be fitting our beliefs and identity to him? Why do the lines here get so darn blurred? Where does cultural relativism become a distraction instead of a helpful tool the church uses?

As I have began to search the scriptures, pray, experience Jesus for myself and see Him move in other peoples lives I have found Him to be incredibly approachable to all types, yet much more in depth and complex than we often give Him credit for. Christianity so often gets boiled down to things Jesus hardly ever spoke about or displayed in His own life. When we make someones faith about the way they dress or who they are friends with we forget that Jesus sat down and talked with prostitutes, rescued adulteresses from entrapping men, healed the ostracized, and gave no care for how they might affect His 'reputation,' He took time to sit and talk with the lofty, rich and even pompous. He spoke of truth, peace, restoration, and love. This man who had the power of heaven in His pinky finger, would weep at death. He would get angry at injustice. He was strong but did not count sorrow and pain as weakness. He was humble and believed children should be heard as well as seen and that a woman's tears were worth attention. He felt the entire worlds loneliness, darkness, evil and He reaches into our own sin and replaces it with His Spirit and Glory.  The more I see of Him the more I come to realize that I cannot even begin to understand Him fully for He is far beyond anything I could know, but I know that he understands me completely, and He understands you, He understands the stranger I pass on the bus, the political activist crying and passionately marching, He understands the children made orphans by genocide, He understands the conservatives and the republicans, He understands the millennial, the woman who sits forgotten and memory forsaken in the elderly home, and He loves us all as we are.

It wasn't until I understood that His love for me was not dependent on what I have done, will do or where I've been that I began to understand that the real Jesus desires our hearts not our aesthetics. He desires for us to trust Him with the things we fear, we love and hope for and He will sit and listen with all the glee of a father listening to His daughter talk about her dreams of becoming a Princess and He will utter "You are my beautiful princess/writer/dancer/singer/accountant/goth/reader/traveler/artist/race car driver/head dress maker/scarf knitter,"

“The love of Christ embraces all without exception.

Fire of love, crazy over what You have made. Oh, divine Madman. (Prayer of Catherine Siena)

Simply do the next thing in love. 

I have no sense of myself apart from you.

Quia amasti me, fecisti me amabilem. (In loving me, you made me lovable.)” 
― Brennan ManningThe Furious Longing of God


Who, is this real Jesus? He's the realest thing in the universe, and He is the One who loves us MUCH more than we could ever love Him. He keeps no records of our wrongs but instead begs us to come to Him and walk in His love and let it transform us. It's radical and it's the answer to the long list of questions I have. When I can't stand myself, He loves me. When I'm egotistical as hell, He loves me.  When I lose my temper and start swearing like the sailor my mom told me to stay away from, He loves me. When my heart crumbles to pieces, He loves me. When I doubt the depths of His love, He loves me. That is who Jesus is, the lover of our flawed, incapable, silly and beautifully human souls. He takes our humanity and awakens us to the Divine. He makes us Holy in His sight. Everyday I discover a new layer to who He is, and it changes me.

Photo Credit: Alyssa Luzaich!