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

Advertisements

Ban the Box … What Does 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 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.

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 once they have you in the interview. So, 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. If you need help working out a resume, begin searching for resume templates online and play around with them until you find one that suits your style and your desired career – there are tons of free resources for you to use – take advantage of them and get a leg up in your work search! There’s no excuse to not do this – especially since you’re reading this online – make a new tab now and start searching for what you need.

Also, try to 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. If you don’t have these, start asking for them – every single one will help you move forward.

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

Easy Employment Certifications

Hey Readers! Thank you for stopping by again! As always, I have a lot in store for you!

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 anyway) after a conviction.

I am all too familiar with the fact that life gets turned upside down now and again (sometimes it feels like it’s upside down every day… I get that too), and having these little additions to rely on can mean keeping your rental versus ending up homeless (or homeless again – goodness knows I’ve been there myself).

These little employment certificates are the Basset license (basically a responsible bartender) and the Food Handler license.

I completed the Basset training in about 4 hours just yesterday evening by watching video after video on the certification website, 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 tips are pretty awesome too, especially on busy nights.

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. (Update: I paid only $7 for mine, it’s the lowest level one – it’s all I needed as I was serving and not helping cook – although food manager’s licenses seem to run up to $500 around here – if you’re looking to get into cooking be prepared for an investment)

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

 

P.S. – If you’re looking for a certificate to help you overcome your background – you can find it in my books! I did a ton of research on every state and put it all together in a nifty little manual for you! Print version HERE, and ebook versions at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords – see the sidebar for links. Thank you so much!

What am I doing? (Find Out Here)

Happy Friday Readers!

It’s been a long week, but things have picked back up again after  a tiny rough spot. Over the week, I’ve been going nuts with the survey that I created which can be found here.

Some of you might be wondering just what the heck I am up to.

Well, I’m trying to create an after felony life coaching program. I know that I was crazy lost after my conviction. I felt that I was boxed up, stamped with a defunct label, and tucked into a forgotten corner of society.

Familiar sensation? I know, right? Super suck-tacular.

In my situation, I didn’t find out about relief or figure out how to get my life back on track until a considerable amount of time had passed and I was on the verge of giving up and letting go of what little progress I had made. The only thing that helped stop me from doing that was my son. Now, not all of us have that sort of situation, where we have a little one that needs our love and protection, but even without that sort of inspiration to keep going, we on our own as individuals are worth the immense amount of stress and struggle that we will have to endure to get on our feet and feel worthy again.

What I want to do is make sure that we don’t HAVE to feel alone or hopeless anymore. While the program would have some limitations, as relief is so varied between states and our situations are even more varied, I still feel that with guidance that many of us could push through our obstacles and make our lives a little bit more live-able. If we can adjust our mindsets toward growth, resilience, and determination – we can overcome just about anything that we face.

I’m also trying to address how society perceives us. If we focus on our positive aspects instead of our negative aspects, we can improve how society sees us and improve our chances for a better life. But we have to interact with society in positive ways to help that happen. For instance, I recently moved to a smaller town that is still close to where I was convicted. As I’ve socialized over that time with the residents of this area, I try to ensure that there are more positive interactions than negative. Once a few people got to know me better, I dropped the social bomb of having a record. Every single one of them were surprised, but none of them stopped interacting with me because I had created a positive association by being helpful and kind. The good character that I’ve built up over the years is helping improve how these people view some of the felons around here.

So far, I’ve written a basic guide book for those that prefer to do things on their own (like myself) (available here), and I’ve begun developing the one on one after felony coaching program that will help those that need more guidance. I can’t promise that it will be a fix all for everyone, but I can promise that my intentions are to help as many as I can and to inspire others to do the same.

That’s all for now guys, thanks for stopping by and I hope you rock your day and smash your goals!

Aza

Finding Freedom (Full Release)

Hey Readers!

It feels like it has been a long time since I uploaded my work into Smashwords, but the book is finally fully released! (Original cover art featured above – Courtesy Paulann Egelhoff- see links below)

 (Smashwords Link)

It contains helpful tips and hints that I found useful over my own years of struggle, as well as a state by state breakdown of what we can do to get our records off of our backs. I’m not saying getting through it is gonna be easy, but I know from experience that it’s worth it.

Also, if you love the original cover art shown above, please go here to see more of the artists work. She’s a wonderful photographer and digital artist, as well as a close friend of mine. (See, positive networking helps out everyone involved!)

Anywho, thank you so much for stopping by, I hope you’ve found something helpful here, and if you’d like to connect, find my Facebook page The Friendly Felon

If you want the exclusive print edition – find it HERE, and show Microcosm Publishing some love – they’re amazing!

Or if you’re into eBooks – just look to the right of your screen for links to popular retailers or search The Guide to Life After a Felony at your favorite ebook retailer.

Stay strong fellow felons, we got this!

Misinformation about Felons

I’ve been perusing some Facebook groups that are directed toward felons and how to move forward after a conviction. And while I love that, I also notice the amount of misinformation or lack of information. People are discussing creating petitions to their state when it is very possible that the state already has something in place. These programs are not easy to find, but they are one of the least utilized tools that are already there.
People also often seem to think that felons are not supposed to be friends with each other, or that felons can’t vote for the rest of their lives. This simply is not the case in many states. Once you are finished serving your supervisory sentence (probation or parole), you actually get many rights back automatically. I know for a fact that in Illinois, I was able to vote the same year I finished my ‘supervised’ term. I didn’t care to vote until recently, but I was allowed to do so if I wished that same year.

And as for being buddies with other felons, it IS  legal for you to do so. It might not be the best of ideas, especially if the felons you’re friends with are still behaving badly as you really don’t need the inspiration to join in again, but it’s not against the law to be friends. Honestly, it might only apply to people that have specific bars against contact with certain individuals in their probation/parole while they are on it. I know on my case, there was an additional condition of avoiding the individual who had been my companion in my criminal conviction, and I found later that they had a similar condition on their paperwork against me. But it only lasted until our respective sentences were finished. Well, the legal part did, I’ve avoided that particular individual like the Prince from Edgar Allan Poes “The Masque of the Red Death” simply because I don’t need the temptation to fall back in with people I KNOW don’t have the ‘let’s move on mentality’.  The mindset of who you around GREATLY influence you and your motivation. Don’t trap yourself, and be realistic about who you’re around if you really want to make a shift to a better place.

Gun rights are another big unknown for many felons, but there are many states that will allow you to gain back your right to a firearm as well. In Illinois, once you’re done with your sentence, you can apply for your FOID again, and if you are denied, you can take it to the local court to discuss with a judge why you earned/ deserve the right back. Of course, violent offenders probably won’t get this back, and until rehabilitation efforts are created and fully functional in this direction, that probably won’t change. But for the majority of other convictions, you are likely fully eligible to make the attempt to show you’ve earned this right again. Some states are a little more hardball, and others play it more loosely. You have to learn to research these things, and have the patience to read through the “legal speak”. It isn’t easy, but IT CAN lead you to what you NEED to climb that ladder!

I think that pretty much covers the biggest things that I’ve noticed with misinformation about having a felony and how it influences us. The biggest thing to remember here is to DO THE DAMN RESEARCH. Or (shameless self-advertising) you can pay me to do it for you at my Fiverr Gig here – https://www.fiverr.com/azarathia/provide-felony-rehabilitation-support.

Point is, you HAVE to be armed with KNOWLEDGE about your state and your conviction. Without this sort of arsenal, you’ll keep feeling like the dog society tends to think we are.

 That’s all for now – although I won’t be surprised if it comes up again.
Love and peace,
Aza @aza_enigma (Twitter)