The Writer’s Life – I’d Rather Be Writing

Hey Readers! It’s been a while since I’ve posted (again). Yeah, I’m basically online all the time, but it’s been a busy time of year for me.

As I sit here on my bed-top ‘office’, with my laptop comfortably perched across my thighs, I realize that I’ve been writing basically non-stop since 8am this morning… chain-smoking hand-rolled cigarettes, and chugging Rockstar energy drinks (even though I’m still using my Thrive supplement – I just really love the taste of the ‘crack in a can’ — I’m only a little addicted I swear…).

So far, there’s been about 800 words for an adult dating site, 1,000 words for a green business highlighting the upcoming Earth Day (grab your seedlings now or get involved any way you can – April 22nd gets here fast and every tree and helping hand contributes!), and I still have another 800 for an international article that needs to be completed today. Hopefully before lunch, because there’s always errands that need to be run in the afternoon and I’ll fall asleep on my computer if I try to push the work to a late night thing. For me, blank screens are only [somewhat] inspiring through the early hours of the day – at night (particularly after supper) they become inspiration for me to grab my pillow…. (See, learn your body’s schedule and work with it).

Of course, this can also change as the day continues. As a freelancer using online platforms (that are available worldwide 24/7), I tend to get writing gigs on a sort of random basis which can change my schedule up without advance notice (thankfully I’m good at adapting – see this post for more on that). Occasionally I can find a Gig that lasts a couple weeks, and then I’ve filled whatever quota for goodness knows how long and I’m left wondering when the heck I’m gonna see another payment. Sometimes it’s also the reverse and I end up with more work than expected – which is pretty awesome because then I can rest easier knowing bills are paid – even if I might be a bit frazzled to complete it all and keep everything straight. (Nothing like sending the wrong file link to a client – especially when I am balancing ‘adult sex toy’ content and ‘work at home mom’ content… imagine that fubar’d situation…)

The freelance writer’s income is one that isn’t for the faint of heart – I can tell you that now. Some months you can make 300 in 3 weeks, other months you might be lucky to pull an hour’s worth of income – especially with all the demand for cheaper writers…( Strangely enough, I actually see requests for articles of over 3,000 words with a budget of only $5… it’s a real thing guys).

For budding writers – you can go ahead and start out with those really low priced gigs because it helps you build your resume of work – but remember to adjust your prices as you improve your skills! Don’t let your clients walk all over you! Build up, and move up as you go along.

Well, that’s all for now guys! Catch ya later!

Love and Peace
Aza

Finding Direction is Difficult

Hey Readers!

Things are starting to slow down again finally, and settle back into a pace that I can manage (at least without losing my mind). I’m glad to be back to writing and only dealing with filling vending machines instead of hordes of people every day. Thanks to this sudden change in direction, it brought to mind just how difficult it is for us – anyone really (felony label or not)- to find a direction in life.

You know, we all start out as kids thinking that we’ll be a fireman,… a teacher,… an equestrian trainer, … a doctor…so on and so forth. As things progress, we begin to find that we might have multiple interests, or maybe very few interests (that might happen to barred now). Now, as I recall, the great American Dream dictated that we settled on something out of high school, right? Went straight to college. Rolled the dice on the perfect partner and perfect lifestyle – voila. Something like that anyway.

Eh.

Looking back, that whole thing is nonsense. Now, while felons in particular have huge disruptions in finding employment overall, people in general don’t really seem to fit into one category, one set of simple rules, or anything even close to that box that everyone talks about…. ever. We are diverse in everything we do, everything we like, and everything we have experienced. This makes things complicated sometimes. We aren’t going to be able to stay on a single direction for forever. Change is the stuff of life, and even though the changes that felons in particular are experiencing are rough indeed (regardless of the offending conviction),  – it doesn’t have to be an end to ‘having a direction in life’.

I think that it’s okay for life to be diverse and challenging – even if it gives me headaches (dropping back to part-time work and depending on freelancing/self-marketing hurts a bit more than I remember). I know I just have to remember that if I want everything to come from the work I do, I need to put everything into it. Then again, that is far easier to say than to do.

I can’t say much for you guys, but I know I have a ton of interests. This makes post-felony life a bit easier for me honestly, because it means I adapt really well.
For instance, I love crafting and creating in just about every way possible. You’d get lost if you tried to find your way through all of the drawers and totes of my craft stuff, let alone attempted the navigation of the file drawer under my desk.
Add in my love of DIY automotive repair (comes in handy for those times where I really don’t want to interact with people), a knack for writing, and a talent with witchy things, well – I tend to have my bases covered one way or another. I’m telling you, the whole ‘Where there is a will – there is a way’ thing if fully felt and really lived – has proven to be extremely useful. Thank you to my lovely Momma for that (she’s doing fine, in case you were wondering).

I suppose the lesson here is that while you might think life is supposed to be a straight line, things are going to get crooked in one way or another at some point. There are a multitude of experiences that will turn your life into a giant rollercoaster that feels vaguely akin to a personal hell. While this might be unavoidable, or might last longer than you would expect – things can get better.

Allow yourself to try new things, you never know what interests you might unveil!

One personal example of this is when I first found my love of automotive work. I found rat rod magazines in my house as a kid and fell in love with the designs and articles. I began learning the terminology and basic theory of how cars worked and how to work on them. While my dad was older and of a generation that didn’t believe much in women working on cars (he never let me help him), I still found ways to intern as a teen at small shops until I learned enough to move forward and become hire-able. About 15 years later, I thought I was tired of the auto industry (it’ll never be done – fellow techs know that pain, lol) and went into psychology and back to another childhood love of writing.

Now, I offer help online to felons that need encouragement and direction in their lives, as well as continually write (blogs, books, and random freelance things). These are the things I love, and I hope that my focus and drive will inspire other felons to find a path that leads them to their own new flavor of freedom.

So, keep flexible, stay open-minded, find something that interests you and see if you can make it work for you. If you can’t find it in you to find a direction without some additional direction, hit me up on Fiverr and look up my Gigs for help. Maybe you want your cards read, or maybe you want personal coaching on how to overcome your felony – I offer both of those as well as a few other fun things, so click that link and check it out (you’re helping out a fellow felon with every purchase!)

That’s all for today guys! Gotta run to the next job!
Love and Peace – Aza

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

Torn to Zero – Aza’s Poetry

Hey Readers!

A few months ago, I was going through all of my gathered belongings. I’ll do this about once a year or so, or whenever I end up moving. It’s always proven interesting to look back at the things I’ve done, thought about, written down, and everything else. I like to compare those pieces of the past with where I am now (of course, now being relative to whatever time I’m going through those bits and pieces).

I’ve collected just about every notebook, journal, notepad, and planner from my life and as I was flipping through the pages of my past selves – I stumbled on this section of a notebook that I had titled Poetry. Now, looking over it, it doesn’t always seem like poetry, but it feels poetic in my mind – probably only because I relate so much to my own past (of course).

It reminded me of just how torn up my mental status was, and it feels like I painted a far more bleak picture of my youth than I can even conjure from my own memories. Of course, I do try to not think about how low some of those times were, but I suppose it’s good to occasionally remember just how vivid things feel when you’re in those times. It’s the absolute worst time ever as you’re experiencing it at that time, but as time passes, it somehow isn’t able to hit you quite as hard (or maybe that’s my thickened skin talking – who knows – it’s all subjective anyway).

I thought about it a while, toyed with the idea, and finally decided to share this poetry as a glimpse into how deep I’ve dove down the rabbit-hole of depression. And to remind myself of how far I’ve come from that time in my life.

I’ve overcome so many things, and I love looking back and being able to say – that isn’t my mindset now. I’ve grown, learned, experienced, and lived to the fullest of my capabilities each and every day. I hope this collection reminds you that you’ve come as far as you have too, and that it inspires you to keep moving forward – each and every day.

With no further babbling- I present : Torn to Zero – A Collection of Poetry by Aza Enigma

Torn to ZeroTorn to Zero Cover

Interesting Reads – List of the Week

Hey Readers! I’ve been browsing the catalog again!

There’s a lot of nifty books in this list, check them out below:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/503385?ref=AzaEnigma (Strong Brains, Sharp Minds)

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/23934?ref=AzaEnigma (Digital Media Skills)

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/398936?ref=AzaEnigma (Job Guide for Nurses)

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/578517?ref=AzaEnigma (Doctor Who Stuff)

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/252936?ref=AzaEnigma (Learning on the Go)

And that’s my collection of interesting reads this week!

If you dig this list, why not check out my previous posts for more links (here and here)

That’s all for now folks

Love and Peace – Aza

A Day in My Life…

Hey Again Readers!

I’ve been thinking that it might be time to share a bit more about myself. I have a hard time with that, but I’m working on it. This post is proof, and you can’t tell me otherwise. LOL

Anyway, I thought I’d start by sharing a day in my life.

Often, I’m up between 4:15 and 6 am every day. Sleeping in has become a thing I dream about, rather than do – mostly because my son trained me well when he was an infant – but also because the local farmers wait for no one when it comes to their breakfast…
No matter what time I drag my legs over the edge of my bed, I make sure to take my Thrive capsule with a chug of water. After trudging to the bathroom, phone in hand of course, I scroll and get the daily, boring hygienic stuff out of the way.

Once cleaned up and ready for public interaction, I make my way to the kitchen. Now, instead of coffee (which literally hates my guts), I make my morning Thrive shake. I use only half the full dose for this – as it both serves my need of helping me gain weight rather than lose it AND it saves me money (I don’t get my supplement for free yet – because I don’t like pushing products – even when they work for me).

Once I mix the half cup of ‘awesome’ powder into my cup of milk, I sit down at my desk and check over all of my projects. These projects range from the events at my work that I manage, my freelance sites (Fiverr and People Per Hour), my publishing sites (Smashwords, Amazon, and Microcosm), social media (Friendly Felon Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, and Reddit), and check on my marketing ideas for that week. If I’m feeling really froggy, I might do a post on here, or even add to one of the books in progress.

I spend between 15 minutes to 2 hours on this ‘first things first’ process. I call it ‘first things first’ because these things are dedicated to the work I really care about. I don’t mind my current payroll job, but it isn’t my true passion. I also have the most energy and focus in the morning (most of the time anyway) and I like to take advantage of that early burst of ‘Get It’ energy.

Then, depending on the day, I’m either off to work, or off to finish some sort errand for the house. Currently, I tend bar, serve food, and manage the front of house staff and assist with rental event details in a local bar and grill. It’s not a bad fit for me really, as bartenders often act as amatuer psychologists – my bachelor’s degree actually comes in handy for some of my regulars and has opened some wonderful interactions with customers. This helps both of us, as they find helpful advice and new information, and I’m reaching out and opening up to people about my past and changing perspectives about felons in person.

After work or errands, I like to hang out with my family. We homeschool our son, often using Time4Learning during the months that I’m earning enough, or Kahn Academy for the times that it’s just out of reach. He loves both programs, especially in combination because they each offer different aspects of education. He’s only ten and he’s already learning coding and basic animation, as well as his fundamental subjects. When he’s finished for the day, sometimes we’ll play games, or just relax and watch some comic related movies. We’re big comic geeks in my house – Harley Quinn, Thor, and the Turtles are all huge hits around here.

We love to cook together, and we like experimenting with food combinations. Last Thanksgiving, we made a Cordon Blue Stuffed Turkey Breast meal, so we could combine the things that we each wanted from the meal. My son’s favorite meal to help with is fried chicken. I think it’s only because he can get really messy with it – between the eggs, milk, and seasoned dry batter  – it’s a dream come true for him.

We have a good time, and make the best of what we have.

After the work, play, and relaxation, it’s time for bed. Often, I have the most ideas for blog posts, plot points in stories, and business schemes while I’m in that nearly asleep phase. I have yet to actually get around to writing more of those down (part of why I don’t post as often as I’d really like to), even though I have pens, pencils, and paper tucked away in just about every corner of the house. I think it’s mostly because I don’t want to risk waking myself up all the way again by reaching out and actually writing them down – because I like to keep my early schedule going and I know it can be rough to lose sleep the older I get.

Well, that’s a day in my life, and I hope you enjoy the peek into my world as it is right now. Who knows what the next ‘Day in My Life’ will bring! Keep Moving Forward, you’ll find your goals!

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

 

 

Learning to Change Gears

Hello again Readers!

Today, I want to talk about how we will often have to change gears in our life, or make adaptations as we go. It can be a total pain in the arse, but it is worth having the capability to do so, as it can make life quite a bit more workable.

I’ve been talking to my current payroll bosses a lot about resumes, as we’ve been looking for additional staff. They commented on the expansive experience that I showcased in my resume – not that it was necessary for the job I applied for – and added how impressed they were by my adaptability and willingness to learn.

Just to showcase the variety, here’s a taste: Automotive Damage Estimator, Food Packaging Plant worker, Customer Service Rep (Sales Phone line), Sales Agent for Cutlery, Waitress, Volunteer Advocate in a Shelter, Fishing Hook Production Line, Fluid and Filter Maintenance Technician, and more…

And those are just a sample of payroll incomes, let alone the self-employment avenues that I’ve ventured down as well.

Back to my point though, while my original intentions for my life were completely different than what I found myself having to ‘make due’ with, I found that allowing myself to pursue additional paths of interest was something that opened whole new realms of possibility for my life.

Rather than sit there, frustrated at the world for not accepting that I had learned a lesson and beating my fists against a metaphorical brick wall built by that background – I decided to walk in a different direction. Eventually, with practice, I learned to run with that approach in such a way that I could research and be prepared for certain obstacles, to the point where those walls looked more like speed bumps in my perspective.

Not all of them have worked out either, which makes the ability to keep changing gears a very important one.  Also, because it can suck when things haven’t worked out, I always try to make sure I appreciate having the new background knowledge of some aspect of life I hadn’t known before. For instance, after working at an oil change/general maintenance shop – I can now maintain my own vehicle for far longer; simply because I learned so much from taking on that experience.

So, if you’re in that frustrated stage, where your life seems like it’s hit a brick wall, take an inventory of your interests, find a few you think are most applicable to your skills or capability, and get ready to change your gear. It’s gonna be a hell of a ride, but as always – it’s worth it.

Thanks for stopping by and don’t forget to check out The Friendly Felon on Facebook! Get motivation and inspiration on your feed daily!

Love and Peace – Aza

Going the Extra Mile …It’s good for felons too!

Hey Readers! Welcome to my blog and thanks for stopping by! Today, I’m talking about going the extra mile and how it can impact your chances of gaining the life you want.

If you didn’t know already, I’m a fellow felon with a Class 2 Theft, and I typically have a day job along with numerous freelance things (that I wish I could focus on, but we all have bills to pay, right?). Just over 4 months ago, I changed jobs again (my own choice for once, lol) and started working in a local restaurant that features a bar.

I made sure that the interviewing manager knew about my background from day one. The secondary owner didn’t find out until a couple months later when I began suggesting improvements and helped write a brochure for an upcoming event the bar would be a part of. After seeing my work and loving it, he asked about what I’d written before and I told him about the Guide to Life After a Felony ebook – which of course led to – What do I know about felonies?

Heh. Quite a bit actually, personal experience is sucky – but I’ve done some great things because of it. This impressed him, a lot.

His following comment was one thing that really drove home to me the fact that ‘FELON’ isn’t stamped on my forehead (after so many unsavory interactions with the public over the years, it really feels that way sometimes I think).

Anyway, after the brochure thing, I also noticed that the company didn’t have an employee handbook yet – so I made one. I detailed the expectations of the waitresses and bartenders, as well as various opening and closing procedures that needed to be followed to improve the efficiency of the business.
This caught his attention again. No one had asked me to do this, or even suggested it as a thing that we needed. I simply took an idea I had and ran with it. #ExtraMile

Fast forward another month later, and I get called into the boss’s office. I’m freaking out, I’m thinking all sorts of negative stuff, just assuming that I’m going to get fired for either taking too much initiative or for having some random customer throw a fit over my background (it’s happened before – someone I had never met hated me (and my record) and refused to offer business to that facility while I was employed).

After a short discussion about how I had taken a step too far with a bar special (I didn’t charge enough for a certain product that is classified as premium and hadn’t asked permission to run a special – it was a hit though!) [the disapproval didn’t help my initial mindset though]; the interviewing manager looked over at the co-owner, and said, “Should we tell her? Or give her another day?”

My heart dropped again, I’m thinking ‘Yup, back to Craigslist…’

The next words out of the owner’s mouth were, “We’ve noticed that you’ve put in a lot of extra work here, and I’d like to promote you. How would you feel about that?”

-Jaw drop-

“I’d love that! Thank you for appreciating everything I’ve done here. I never expected this!”

So… moral of the story is

When you do land a job (even if it isn’t your ‘goal’ job), always find a way to go the extra mile. Even if it doesn’t land you a promotion (I’ve been putting in the extra mile at every job and this is only the second job where I’ve been offered management level work) it does get you noticed. And getting noticed for good things is the best weapon against that stigma that we all experience as felons.

It won’t necessarily have an immediate effect on your life, and you probably won’t get immediate notice for going the extra mile. For instance, at another place of employment, I created new signage for us to use when advertising our services, and re-organized the inventory to make it easier to count. Nothing happened there – other than the store manager saying thanks. When I transferred into another auto shop, I re-organized the entire filing system and got the files completely up to date – once finished – I was laid off (but did have good references from them). Not exactly a great reward for going the extra mile right?

But I never let the lack of a reward stop me from putting extra work in. Heck, for me, the knowledge that I made even a small positive impact – even if just for a co-worker- is enough for me – and I don’t even have to like the business I’m at to enjoy that part. It certainly helps to like your job, it can be difficult to find motivation to do extra stuff when you dislike the place or the people, but you aren’t doing it for them really, you’re doing it for yourself and your future.

Every single positive interaction will begin to build upon the other, and will eventually pull you out of the black hole that a bad background can become for us felons. So, keep pushing forward through all the bullcrap, stay strong, and build up for your future.

We got this fellow felons, stay strong and remember, we are MORE than our past.

Love and Peace,
Aza