Survey Opportunity!

Hello Readers! It’s been a while thanks to some extra insanity going on in the home life – nothing like a sudden job change immediately after replacing your vehicle. I have however been keeping busy with my networking platforms and I’ve found someone that would really love to share their survey with you!

The creator of this survey is a fellow friendly felon supporter, and has experienced part of the world of incarceration through their family members. This experience inspired them to take on the world of incarceration and the many influences that impact incarceration rates. They’re going to be graduating with their psychology degree soon (congrats!) and would love a chance to talk with you through their latest survey!

https://goo.gl/forms/aENdrSWo4kuSIodz2

Click the link and help a fellow friend!

That’s all for now – love and peace! – Aza

Ban the Box … What’s it do?

Hey Readers!

I’ve seen a lot of community posts about how many states have adopted a ‘ban the box’ policy for job applications.

This effort is to help us felons and all the convicts in general find a job just a bit more easily.

What it really does, is delay the background question.

Instead of that immediate scoff by human resources personnel and the quick placement of your app into the famous ‘File 13’, your application will now be considered as a normal application up until the interview process.

It doesn’t give you a ‘get a job scot-free’ card. You won’t just put in your new application and be accepted immediately – even if you have an awesome work record.

Most of the states still have the ability to talk about your record. You will still need to come clean about it at some point in the hiring process…, but at least the employer has already been tempted to hire you due to your work ethic as displayed on your resume AND application.

Oh yeah, I also advise making a resume, most places allow you to upload your resume on their online application, and EVERY bit of proof that you’re a good worker will help you in this process. Include letters of recommendation from previous employers, co-workers, probation officers, officers in general – just about anyone who will write out a reference letter for you – keep them together and bring them with you as well.

Every bit of proof that you can get your hands on, grab it. Take these adjustments to the laws and make the best of them. There might not be much wiggle room, but we CAN keep moving forward.

So, get your resumes ready, grease up those elbows, and get to work!

We got this guys!

Love and Peace – Aza

No Rest for the Wicked

Good Afternoon Readers!

It has recently come to my attention that I’m basically working all of the time. When I talk about my life to my co-workers and other peers, they’re often left wondering how the hell I do all these different things and how I’ve picked myself up time and time again.

The simple fact is… I’m just constantly putting in effort in some area of my life. Even on my ‘days off’, I often find myself ‘working’ in some way.

Just last week, I cleaned an entire house of soot damage and repainted the ceiling in two rooms on a ‘day off’ from my payroll job.

Today (also a ‘day off’), I wrote out another round of postcards for the mailer marketing I’ve been running for ‘The Friendly Felon’s Guide to Life‘, am writing this post currently, and have also been adding content to not just one book in progress, but two completely different books in progress. (Spirituality and Perspectives (non-fiction exploration), and Letters of Love and War (fictionalized memoir) simply because those are my two favorite works in progress today) I’ve also read three Tarot spreads for clients online in the last 24 hours.

Point is…. there really aren’t any days off. Not when you’ve got something in mind to work toward.

Now, this doesn’t apply to just us felons…. My mom friends and work friends are also crazy busy between balancing their children, work lives (sometimes multiple jobs), and also building toward their goals – whatever they may be, some are in nursing school along with a full time job and the millions of sporting events that 4 children in middle school bring while others are working two jobs and attending college courses while living out of their vehicle to save on expenses.

The grind is real, for all of us.

Now, this isn’t to say, ignore everything else in your life while you run your nose into the metaphorical grindstone…
Just that you can’t stop going after your dreams. Even when things seem slow or pointless or even overwhelming simply because you’re so busy. (For instance, after a year and not even 50 followers, many people would have given up on their blog as a way to reach others… but here I am, still chugging along – slowly… but surely. Even if I had to take a couple breaks here and there to keep other things in life on track as well.)

So, when you’re feeling tired of the grind, remind yourself that the rewards are worth the lack of ‘rest’. And even if we aren’t all ‘wicked’, we all have those dreams that are worth chasing, and worth the lack of relaxation. We can relax once we’ve crossed our finish lines.

Love and Peace – Aza

 

 

Pushing Boundaries and Developing Skills

Hey Readers! Hope all is well for you!

 

It’s been an interesting month for me, as there have been some suggestions in the works for offering speeches.

Now, not only am I a shy and somewhat anxious person, I’ve also been trained by society in some ways to feel that my opinions are not worthy and that I’m more likely to fail than other people. Simply because I made a mistake and earned a record – over a decade ago.

It is amazing to have that sort of suggestion thrown my way, because of those reasons. And it’s rather validating in a way, even if I still have that nagging voice in the back of my head saying…”Hahahaha – you’re gonna do WHAT? That’s hilarious!!!”.

Now, do I have any idea how to create a speech from scratch? …Not really…

Do I have any experience talking in big groups? …. (falls over laughing)

Do I have any experience with videos, editing, or uploading? …. absolutely not…

Am I gonna dig in, do some research, and create the best experience for my audience as possible?? …. We have a winner!

You know why I’m saying yes? I’m saying yes, because opportunity is knocking at my door. I’m saying yes, because I believe in every felon that wants their life to be better – deserves the right to find a path to that. I’m saying yes, because growth might be painful sometimes, but it’s one of the most beautiful things in life.

It won’t be easy, and I won’t like all of it, but I know I’ll learn some new skills, some new ideas, meet new people, and have more chances to make a positive impact on how felons are viewed in society.

You and me? We’re both worth more than we realize, and we need to remember that. Start looking for opportunities to create positive interactions, and be a part of the change, not only in yourself and your life, but the life of every other struggling felon out there.

Love and Peace,
Aza

 

Who Likes Reading? (raises hand)

Hey Readers! Back again today with a short list of inspiring reads I’ve found on Smashwords while doing a bit of research.

I’ve bookmarked them for myself too, for that rainy day that I have off every now and then. Hopefully, I’ll snag enough time to finish these before the end of the year, so I can use them as stepping stones for my goals next year!

Check them out below:

1. Smashword Reading List Book 1
I’m hoping to get into the interviewer mindset from this, to help build a workshop for local ex-offenders who need interview training.

2.  Smashword Reading List Book 2
Who doesn’t love getting pumped up with inspirational quotes? These are fuel for me, and also give additional perspective on the various situations we can encounter.

3. Smashword Reading List Book 3
This one, well, it seems a lot more blunt from the title, and yes.. you’ll have to click to find out what it is. I have a feeling that I’m going to love it, the reviews are wicked, and I can’t resist that darkly honest and slightly edgy writing style and perspective.

Thanks for stopping by again! Love and Peace
Aza

Playing Around on Canva

Hey Readers! I’ve been working on a local marketing campaign, and came up with this. Still not sure if the links I tried to embed (not even sure if that’s the right word – I’m still learning all of this stuff) in the image using Canva’s creator page are even working. It didn’t pan out for the Facebook attempt, so I’m seeing what it will do on here. Feel free to click around on it and see if it does anything. lol

If it does, you can let me know if you have a moment to do so. Anyway, here it is, one of my most recent Canva creations …..

The Friendly Felon

Ok, well, I guess that’s what a PDF upload will do on here. (Again, still learning – mostly from trial and … obviously ….numerous errors.)

I’ll stick with the plan though, and see what it does after the post is published. If you have advice about this stuff, I would not mind hearing it. Heh.

Peace and Love
Aza

Little Laughs of a Freelancer

Hey Readers!

I finally got around to ordering business cards for my little one woman start up here, and I had a strange little moment as I was fighting with the design, title, and whatnot.

I hadn’t really thought of it much, but as a freelancer of things that seem to not have been done before, I get to pick the title for the work I do.
Seems simple enough…. right?

Ha.

Nope.

I’ve ran through a few different titles, and all seem to be unsatisfactory. …. even the one I ended up putting on the cards and ‘officially ordered’.
Some examples of these are:

Freelance Felony Support Specialist

Relief Researcher

and the one I settled upon for now….(drum roll please….)

Rights Recovery Mentor (…….and of course, ..now I’m thinking I should have stuck with the Specialist bit… /facepalm)

And there we have it. My little laugh today.
Hope you enjoyed it as much I did, and that it helps you remember, nothing can really hold you back other than yourself.

Sometimes you just gotta toss your hat over the fence and commit yourself to an idea, even when you’re a little unsure. You never know where it might lead you 🙂

Love and Peace,

Aza

Our First Interview – Success Stories

Hey Readers! So, while I continue to put out more posts and constantly research, I’ve begun finding and meeting some awesome people.

And, guess what… They’re felons too, and have been able to find a pathway to overcome their personal struggles. And lots of us want to reach out to each other and help our brothers and sisters in the background struggle.

Here is my first interview with such an individual, let me introduce Lisa Forbes and her story:

  1. What was your first conviction, and what was the most influential factor in your life at that time?

I love this quote by Joyce Meyer:  “If you want to get over a problem, stop talking about it.  Your mind affects your mouth, and your mouth affects your mind.  It’s difficult to stop talking about a situation until you stop thinking about it.”

What is a matter of public record is a matter of public record.  But I don’t have to keep giving life to it by talking about it.  The world was created by words, and is maintained by words.

After 18 years, I have so re-defined myself that I have no interest in discussing the past.  I am, however, writing a memoir, and for two reasons.  The first is to put the past in perspective.  Secondly, I would love for all the details that it will include to give readers who have endured similar events the certainly that they are not alone, that other people can relate, and that they, too, can choose to not be permanently impacted by the past.

The most influential factor in my life at that time was having been traumatized sexually, religiously, and emotionally throughout my childhood and into adulthood.

 

  1. What was the catalyzing moment in your life that brought you to make positive changes and begin your current path?

When I realized that in my terrible marriage, I had recreated my childhood – right down to marrying a man who was the same age as my father.   Trauma had me stuck in a behavioral loop.  I repeatedly entered relationships with people who treated me as I had always been treated at home.  I had to accept the fact that some part of me needed to feel worthy of a better life.  I had to choose to believe that God loves me.  I had to stop punishing myself.  I had to stop feeling guilty because I had been declared guilty.  I had to forgive myself and move on.  Acceptance of that led me to understanding the impact of trauma, and the extent to which being in a traumatized state was preventing me from changing.  I want to emphasize that these realizations came about as a result of a lot of reading and studying and praying for help.  I was able to research these things and then reach out for help.  I realize that a lot of people aren’t in that position.  And that is the gap where I would like to stand – to do that for those people who aren’t able to do close that gap without a little help.

 

  1. What has or will define your success as a restored recruiter?

Restored recruiter is a term that no longer applies to me, and I need to update my social media accounts.  At one time I had a vision of working with restored citizens to help them enter the job market on the level at which they were actually qualified, rather than assuming that all they could get were low-paying, entry-level jobs.  Many restored citizens have taken every class and gotten every degree they could get while they were inside.  They are more educated than some people who have never been on the inside, and they are quite capable of doing something besides being grateful for a minimum-wage job.  Many restored citizens have street skills that are easily transferrable to the business world.  I envisioned focusing on highly skilled but under-employed restored citizens and connecting them to the workforce.  However, I realized that trauma often underlies the reasons why people can get jobs but not keep them, or get housing but not keep it.  Therefore, my focus has shifted to trauma resolution.  It is well known now that trauma can affect one’s beliefs about the future, leading to loss of hope, limited expectations about life, fear that life will end abruptly or early, or anticipation that normal life events won’t occur (e.g., access to education, ability to have a significant and committed relationship, good opportunities for work).  We see this in many large sectors of the population, but we don’t connect it to trauma.  So we do things like have job fairs and government programs.  Then we wonder why we keep seeing the same people in the same situations over and over again, many of them for years.  Without resolving the underlying trauma, ultimately their lives will not change.  Working with restored citizens to resolve their trauma is now my primary focus.

 

  1. Any hints or tips for the Readers?

 

It’s not popular, but my advice is to recognize that no permanent change comes by way of other people.  Permanent change starts on the inside and then becomes manifest outside.  If trauma is not acknowledged and resolved, the person is not healed and whole even if they happen to have a job and a place to live.

 

  1. Any additional information you’d like to share with us today?

My goal is to help people become whole.  I can share the specific techniques that I use to do that with anyone who is personally interested.  If anyone is interested, they should contact you and request further information regarding my specific work in this area.

 

And so concludes our first interview. Huge thanks to Lisa for sharing her story and offering a helping hand to those who desire it.

Please feel free to contact me at azarathias alternatives at zoho dot com (gotta make it harder on spammers, it’s working so far!) to learn more about how to contact Lisa for her services.

I hope you enjoyed it, and found some hope in your own future success!

Peace and Love

-Aza

Catching Up

Hello my glorious Readers!

After a couple weeks of non-stop work, I finally finagled a day off this week. I’ve picked up a couple extra jobs (surprisingly in the same business) and as the business is currently short-staffed… well, I’ve barely had time to even look at my poor, now – forlorn laptop.

I’m even about a week behind on the new edits for the book, ‘Finding Freedom’. I landed a small publishing deal with a U.S. based publishing company. It’s something totally new for me, but I can’t wait to reap the rewards of being able to reach more people with the helpful information I’ve compiled.

We are also waiting on responses from a couple of my new connections (thank you social media) so I can begin sharing more success stories of fellow felons. I’m so grateful for all of the support from my cohorts in #FelonsAreHumans (Facebook Group – check it out if you haven’t found it yet). When you do, give a shout-out to Jolene for creating the group that has been so helpful to so many people.

Everyone I’ve met recently has been so excited and helpful, and I love finding additional pathways for us to improve our lives after our convictions. For example, something new that I hope to apply to the lovely Felony Rehabilitation Program is Neuro-Linguistic Programming. It’s basically a mind-hack that can help push us to be our best selves. I still have a lot of research to do in this area though, but I’m very excited to have been introduced to this concept as a viable addition to the program. Big thanks to Leslie for that!

That’s all I have for you guys currently, but don’t forget to check out some of the older posts, and please check out my personal version of “Finding Freedom” – which is now FREE on Smashwords!!!

Much Love and Best Wishes!

Aza

 

 

 

Felons and Certifications

Hey Readers! I have a really neat interview with Lisa Forbes coming up, where she will talk about the factors that played into her conviction, and how she has turned her life around, and how she defines her success as a reformed recruiter.  I am quite excited to hear her story and learn from her experiences, how about you?

Now, while we wait for the interview, I wanted to let you guys know that there are affordable certifications that will help you improve your employability (apparently I’ve made a new word – according to Google spellcheck) after a conviction. Food service may not be a very high level income, but it can certainly help make ends meet when we  fall on rougher times. I know that life gets turned upside down now and again, and having these to rely on can mean keeping your rental versus ending up homeless (or homeless again – goodness knows I’ve been there myself).

These certificates are the Basset license (basically a responsible bar tender) and the Food Handler license.

I completed the Basset training in about 4 hours just yesterday evening through watching video after video, answering the practice questions, and then completing the final exam. I paid around 14 bucks for it, and now I can be hired at any bar in my state. Of course, not all states have a full requirement of a licensed server, but even if they don’t require it, it may be a good idea to invest in it, because it will show that you will go above and beyond the basic expectations and that you’ll be a responsible seller.

The Food Handler license will help you gain cooking and waitressing jobs too, and I’ll be taking this course soon as well – I’ll make an update when I have more information on the cost and the type of course that is offered online.

Neither course has mentioned performing any sort of background check, and I haven’t found a bar yet that runs a check for hiring purposes (maybe my area is a bit BFE though – let me know if your locale is different), so if you’re a people person and know how to defuse the situations that can come up in a bar, you might consider becoming a bartender.

The cash tips are often pretty decent – especially if you’re lucky and get the ever coveted weekend evening hours, and that’s money you can typically take home each night on top of the weekly paycheck for your hours. Tip based jobs are sort of awesome in that way, even if they are ‘lower income’.

That’s all for now guys, come back soon and find some inspiration in Lisa’s interview, and keep rising above!

Aza