I’m on Patreon! Support and Share!

Hey guys!

So, things have been incredibly insane the last couple weeks for me.

I had finally found 2 jobs I loved (on top of the freelancing I offer) and I was excited to finally be exactly where I wanted financially. They were part-time gigs but decently paying jobs that I really liked. They didn’t require me to be around people constantly – which was great – I’m awkward as can be in person. It really was perfect.

Until my new-ish car decided to show exactly how much of a Jynx (apparently it wanted to live up to the name I gave it) it was. And the lemon law only covers 500 miles in my area – where I had already driven over 10,000 miles (I was a busy, busy bee – I’m losing my mind now honestly because I don’t have enough Gigs to keep me occupied)

Anyway, both of my payroll jobs were based on driving my vehicle. Thanks to Jynx breaking down so badly I couldn’t afford to fix it, I’m now not only out of a job – but out of all options for work locally.

While I have been building my freelancing business – I was not prepared to become a full-time freelancer so suddenly.

In light of this, I was directed to check out Patreon by a few of the fellow authors I’ve talked with. So, I decided to take a chance to really push my freelancing and my goals to reach out to struggling felons in my area.

(Sidenote: this is part of the flexibility that I talk about with work and mindset – I’m freaking out and really anxious – but I’m applying that energy to do things that might help me in the long run with what I’ve really wanted to do with my time and contributions – even if it wasn’t my original plan to be here already)

So, I checked Patreon out and I love the platform. It helps me define clear goals that you guys can help me reach – and I only ask for $5 a month on it. Of course, if you want to donate more – you are free to do so. I hate asking for help, but if I’m going to be successful in helping those who need it – I can’t do it alone.

Find my Patreon page HERE and if you can’t support – please share it – you’ll still be an awesome part of my goals!

Thank you for checking me out, don’t miss out on my other great posts where I share information for felons who want to learn how to overcome their past.

Misinformation Round 1

Misinformation Round 2

Helpful Hints for Convicts

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Twitter Interview #1 – Jess T.

I’ve finally been using my Twitter account instead of ignoring it and I made an awesome new friend on it this week. It feels pretty awesome to know that there are people in the same situation that want to help others who are still struggling with their recovery in life. She’s decided to share a little of her story about her conviction and her progress with her recovery from those darker days.

Are you ready to read her interview? I know it touched my heart and reminded me of how amazing each and every one of us is. Here we go:

Aza -When were you convicted and what were you convicted for?

Jess – Let’s see. The last time I was arrested was July 2007 for possession of methamphetamine. I was already on first offender felony probation, so I ended up staying in the county jail for a little over 5 months.

Aza – What helped you push through the obstacles that your convictions put in place?

Jess- I found out about two weeks in that I was pregnant. It was one of the scariest 5 months of my life. I called my mom to bail me out like I always did… only, this time she called my existing probation office to make sure they put a probation violation hold on me so that I couldn’t get out. Of course, at the time she had no idea how long I would be stuck in there; she just wanted me to get clean. For so long, she didn’t even know if I was still alive; so, knowing I was somewhere safe was a relief. As far as pushing through the obstacles that stem from my convictions, of course, my faith and my family were a huge driving source. I honestly believe that God saved me. That putting my life in His hands is the only reason I still have one. And, I couldn’t have made it through the drug court program and rehab program and the stress of being a single mom and recovering addict without my parents. But, also, there was no choice but to push through. I remember being paraded through doctors offices (because a pregnant inmate still has rights to prenatal care) in cuffs and leg shackles, people pulling their kids closer to them as if I was going to attack, and thinking, “I’m not this person. I never hurt anyone other than myself.” The shame was unbearable. I remember standing in front of the judge for the last time, facing 10 years in prison, and feeling completely hopeless. And, I remember the world around me stopping as I heard her say she saw something in me that she can’t explain, and that she was going to give me another chance on the condition that she never sees me in her courtroom again. And, at that moment, I knew I had no choice. I wanted to be better, for myself and for my baby. I was going to prove to everyone that I was better than what they saw.

Aza – What advice would you give to other struggling felons and recovering addicts across the globe?

Jess – For advice, I would say this: You are not your mistakes. BUT don’t disown your past. Own every single part of who you are. One thing that always bothers me is when people say, “well, that’s your past. That’s not who you are.” Wrong. My past is every bit a part of who I am. And, I wear it with pride. I have been through the pits of hell and I have come out, no matter how battered or bruised, on the other side. I encourage you to not let anyone make you feel ashamed of your past. You’re a survivora fighter… and the world has so much in store for you!


Thank you, Jess, for sharing your story of struggle and how you pushed through the obstacles that life throws at us.

 

Looking Back – The Last 365 Days

Hey Readers!

I was looking back at some of the old posts on here and realized that it’s nearly my one year anniversary of publishing my first book!

It wasn’t but a few months before that I had created this blog in the first place, and was finally inspired to write about the helpful points of my own experience in overcoming my bad background.

Thus was born, the Friendly Felon’s Guide To Life After a Felony and all the subsequently birthed ‘side-quests’ that this endeavor opened up for me.

It’s really crazy to think about how quickly everything began taking off in some way, and somehow also how slow some things feel like they’re going.

After self-publishing using Smashwords and Amazon, I also reached out to an aligned publishing company (Microcosm – has generally awesome content, go check them out, even if you don’t want or need my book) and was approved and put into print. It was amazing to get that rush of accomplishment!

This positive feedback encouraged me to continue writing and has allowed me to grow in so many ways that I didn’t expect. I’ve had the pleasure of helping a few felons across the nation and the genuine reactions I’ve seen as they realized they weren’t out of options has been the absolute best part of everything. As time passed, I also began getting more messages from fellow felons across the nation – thanking me for showing them that they really could move forward with their lives.

I’ve pushed my expectations of myself for learning – especially when it comes to the marketing and seo stuff – and have made progress in ways I never thought possible thanks to my background (it’s a difficult mindset to shake honestly – more about that another day). It’s really amazing what you can do with even a touch of determination and research guys (Nope, I’ll never say it enough, -not sorry).

In addition, I jumped more fully into the freelance writing gig and have been experiencing slow but steady success in gaining clients and a great reputation as a writer – and this blog is even part of my portfolio (of course, if you saw my last post – you should know that already). It’s all come together so wonderfully, and it is incredibly rewarding even though it’s been a long, slow business working toward this level of fulfillment in life after my felony conviction.

It’s been a crazy 365 days guys, and it just goes to show you how things can turn for the better when you find a focus and work toward it without relent. Don’t be scared to learn new things or try new industries – you never know what might actually click better with your skills and personality until you try it out. I certainly never thought I’d actually be the slightest bit successful with my writing or my life in general for the longest time – but I proved myself wrong – and that’s one of the most important lessons I could have learned.

So long for now, stay strong and keep moving forward!

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 – and I can whack parts that aren’t cooperating with my wrench -which I can’t do with non-cooperating 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, truly lived out in mind and action – 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 is 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 (ha, I’m sometimes funny), hit me up on Fiverr and look up my Gigs for help. Maybe you want personal coaching on how to overcome your felony – I offer that 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

Misinformation is Abundant

Hey Readers! I’ve been scrolling through the Twitter feeds and Facebook groups, and I have been shocked by the amount of misinformation about felons that has been spread.

There’s a few things in particular that I’d like to clear up now.

Voting: In many states, so long as you’ve completed your sentence fully (lock up and supervision included), you can register to vote again and have your voice heard.

Firearms: In many cases, non-violent felons can regain access to firearms – again, once completely finished with your sentence.

Felon Friendly Jobs – Lists have been floating around the internet for years, ever since we figured out we could share information. The thing is – not all felons will be hired by ‘felon friendly employers’. This is very much based on the nature of your felony and the nature of the work you’re going for. For instance, with my record, all retail store employers see is a thief when they look at my background. However, I can easily work in the automotive industry, in factories, and many other career paths if I choose to.

Thinking All States Have the Same Laws – Seriously, just throw that idea out the window now. My research has shown me just how insane the differences are, and guess what – you’ll need to find out what applies to you and your state if you want to succeed with your background. (I can’t stress this word enough – RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH)

Alright, that covers the main pains I’ve seen recently. Here’s a list of previous posts that are also full of resources:

Misinformation about Felons

Timelines and Tips

Felons and Certifications

Guide to Life After a Felony (ebook)

Friendly Felon’s Guide to Life  (print book)

That’s all for now guys, til next time – Stay Strong, Rise Above, and NEVER let anyone tell you who you are and who you CAN BE. We are MORE THAN OUR PASTS and we will overcome all our obstacles!

Love and Peace – Aza

Smashwords Profile

Hey Readers!

I’ve updated my profile page at Smashwords – one of my online publishing sources. Just click the link there, and you can check it out. Maybe take a look around the site and see what all the awesome indie authors out there have to offer.
There’s a lot of interesting things always being uploaded every day!

Pushing Personal Boundaries

Hey Readers!

Seemingly unrelated topic today!
I agreed to go to a local event with a friend last month. It’s a Thrive after 5 event, and I’ve been convinced to go up and speak about my experience while using Thrive. (Sorry if the mention of it kills your interest – I really do have a point with all this!)

I’m sort of losing my mind today, because it’s finally really hitting me that I’ll be out in front of a crowd, and will in all likelihood – will forget everything I want to say and simply blush myself out of existence. I’m more introverted than anything, and the idea of talking to a group of people in person is somehow more terrifying to me than anything I can imagine doing.

Even so, I’m still making myself try.

This is one of those things where I also had to ‘throw my hat over the fence’ so to speak.

To explain: I’ve posted before about using Thrive by Le-Vel, and thanks to my reluctance to use my psychology powers to make people join me – I usually have to pay for my own product. I really love it that much, it’s easy to keep using it when you don’t have to pay out of pocket – but I’ll go the extra mile just to keep this in my life. It’s that much of a game changer for me.

However, my wonderful promoter offers to help me out fairly often, and in exchange for helping me a couple months ago, she asked me if I’d help her with this event. I happily obliged, mostly focused on taking the opportunity for a break on my supplement costs – things were slow at work and this would make it easier to keep everything afloat. I had some idea that I’d be really nervous later on in this deal, but I knew future me could deal with it – right?

Well, here I am, and again, while I don’t much care for this sort of thing, I know it’ll not only help my friend, repaying her kindly for her assistance, AND it will continue making me a more rounded, and less fearful person. Who knows, maybe I’ll even find a way to enjoy the spotlight – if I’m lucky.

I’ll update later tonight and let you know how it goes. Maybe this will help me get a better grasp on how far I have to go when it comes to speaking – since it’s something I intend on doing as part of my living – I might as well dig into the practice. Wish me luck!

****Update*****

So, I was worried for nothing!

I’m not sure if it’s just my bad juju, or if the team just didn’t do enough marketing of the event because it was so far out of our normal region, but it ended up being a nice night out for just the three of us that had planned on speaking. It was a total flop. Not a single other person showed up, and we had this entire section booked for the night. How crappy is that?

And, what’s worse, is the food that we ordered was ridiculously tiny for the price. The kid’s chicken strip basket was the same price as our cheesy chicken and bacon platters, and had at least 5 more ounces of meat on it. All in all, for the 3 adults and two kids that ate – we spent over $120. (One of the kids had a 12 oz sirloin though, so… that probably didn’t help. lol)

Oh well, it was my first night out in years, and even though it was a fail, it was worth a try. I nearly had my nerves under control as we pulled up to the the event – so… that’s progress right?

I also feel that I’ll get pulled into the next one, so I know I’m not out of the woods of anxiety yet. But, I’ll keep pushing forward, and making myself do things I’m scared – why? Because it’s good for me.

What fear do you need to work on? Share below and let’s get talking!

Introspecting the Post Conviction Mentality

It’s important to remember that a conviction is something that happens to you, and that it doesn’t define you.
It’s also important to remember that one of the worst things about trying to change your life is how frustrating the whole process can be, but good things do NOT come easy – not for the majority of us anyway.
I went for years thinking that my record made me worthless in the eyes of society before realizing that I really did still have something to contribute that would be helpful and meaningful somehow.
The social perception that I wasn’t worthy of a job depressed and infuriated me in the early years during probation and even after a successful completion of my sentence, things didn’t seem to begin to turn up. Every failed interview and every let down in housing options made me feel stupid and insignificant in the eyes of society, and why should I try to cater to that – they hate me right? (sound familiar at all?)

But I know now that I am more than my past, and I know from interacting with a huge group of fellow felons online in a variety of platforms that many other felons out there are more than their past too.

Really letting that sink in can be hard, both for the felon and for the never convicted.

And it’s honestly understandable. A fellow felon just mentioned to me last week that there are many out there who are still actively being shitty (for lack of a more eloquent description), and yes, there is always that danger, but I assure you that there are many more of us that simply want to live our lives in some semblance of a secure manner.

One of the leading things I’ve found in my own research and work with this stuff, is that when we’re denied our basic rights on the outside, we find them met on the inside.

And that sucks. It makes people want to go back, simply because it meets those basic needs. However, what those sorts are forgetting, is that there are more than basic needs in life. We have needs for positive social interaction with other people that want us to grow and learn. We have desires for lovers and families (in some cases). We have a wish to do something that leaves a mark on the world. But, somehow, we get caught up on those basic needs, simply because we hear no too often, lose that job, are denied that apartment, or lose that sense of security in life. All because we made one (or more) mistakes, and even though we tried to do better, the more we had to hustle in the wrong way just to get by.

I can only say that through sheer bull headedness that I’ve managed to scrape by and fight my way to what I want in life. It takes a lot of work, and a lot of going the extra mile. If you’re in the same boat, I want you to know you’re not alone, you’re worth more than your past, and you can do whatever you really put your mind to. Hustle for the good side of things, even harder than anything you might have done in the past for that other side. Something I found that is posted on The Friendly Felon Facebook Page, is Chris Pratt’s quote, involving this sentence-

“IT will break before YOU do…”

That’s powerful right there. Meditate on that bit there, and see where you can take life.

Love and Peace

Aza

 

Success Stories – Robert

I’ve located another amazing transformation story for you today!
Read on Readers!

Introduction to Robert:

Robert Gallant grew up in a troubled environment, where he became a dysfunctional alcoholic at a young age. Under his drunken exterior hid a heart of gold and a sparkling brilliance, however, his life brought him through many tragic events, caused by a series of bad choices, including three years of homelessness. After a life-altering event that led to his incarceration for an extended period of time, he turned his life around, let his heart and his brilliance shine for all to see, and never looked back. His life of destructive addictions is no more. Through a dedication to self-improvement and education he has become an accomplished public speaker, author, mentor, and leader. He is ALB and ACB Certified from Toastmaster’s International, and is pursuing an ongoing education in Christian care and counseling. He recently completed the necessary classes to become a Certified Peer Specialist, volunteers as a Life Coach at a prison re-entry center, and just recently was asked to possibly join the National Alliance to End Homelessness! He currently lives as a happily married man, with an amazing family. His goal is to help others find the same success and peace he has gained.

The Interview:

Aza -. What charges/convictions have you faced, and how did they initially impact your life?

Robert – During my life, I have faced a multitude of criminal charges. They all had one thing in common – they stemmed from my addiction to alcohol. The various charges I have faced have had different degrees of impacts upon my existence, depending on where I was in life, and what I “had going for me.” There was also one common thread that ran through the impacts – every charge made me feel worthless, ashamed, and hopeless. It didn’t matter if it was something as minor as the many “drinking in public” charges I picked up when I was homeless, or the most serious one – 2nd degree murder. This last one forced me to face myself, and who I had become. This was not me. I was a boy, and then a man, with hopes and dreams – someone who cried at those commercials that play sad songs while they show you pictures of homeless puppies. I loved life, and everything it represented. This inner reflection was the beginning of healing.

Aza –  What was the factor in your earlier life that really drove you ‘into the bottle’ so to speak?
Robert – At first, I drank just to fit in. All my “friends” were doing it and I wanted to be accepted. It didn’t dawn on me later on in life that the REAL problem was that I wanted to be accepted – by anyone who would have me. My Dad abandoned my Mom and I when I was 11 years old. When I later reflected on my life while I was incarcerated, I learned that ever since my Dad left us, I had a deep longing for acceptance – for a family. That longing led me to become something, and someone, I wasn’t. I left behind my true self to search for wholeness at the bottom of a bottle, and the many people I falsely called “friends.”

Aza –  What was the changing point in your life, what was it that catalyzed your transformation?
Robert – The thing that catalyzed my transformation cannot be pinpointed to one exact moment. I can only give credit to God. I grew up as a “good little Catholic boy,” so I always knew OF God. I didn’t truly get to know Him until I became homeless. During my time as a vagabond, I met this one homeless man who didn’t drink or do any drugs. He was always happy and content. I wanted to learn his secret, so I started hanging around him. It turned out that his joy came from God. He spent every morning alone in prayer as he read the Bible. He was literally high on the life that only comes from God. I began to change as I hung around him more. I actually stopped drinking for a few months. It was so amazing! I found joy in reading the Bible, singing hymns, and just enjoying the world that God created for us. This peace unfortunately didn’t last. I eventually started drinking again, and ended up in prison for my involvement in my friend’s death. It was at that somber time that I realized two people died for my sins – Jesus Christ, and my friend. At that moment I made a promise that their blood would not be shed in vain. I confessed to my involvement, and left myself at the mercy of the court.

Aza –  What was the first step you took toward changing your life?

Robert – Confession. I had to admit to myself that I am absolutely nothing without God. With this basic admission, came the need to learn more about God. I ordered a Bible from the chaplain’s office, and read it cover to cover multiple times. I found like-minded people and began to fellowship. I also searched for any positive program I could take part in. I got my G.E.D., joined Toastmaster’s International, and began a very deep self-study into history, science, and other amazing topics. This time of small beginnings led to bigger and better things in my life. I eventually became president of my Toastmasters club. (This is a public speaking and leadership organization) I even became the president of an extensive rehabilitation center I was housed at for the last year of my sentence. I was voted into this office by my peers, and had the responsibility to govern and lead over 150 men that were housed there! Above all, I needed to find things about me that I could love, and that nobody could take away from me. I learned that I am an amazing public speaker. I have a deep love for God. I get up every day and do my best. Nobody can take these things away from me. I am no longer defined by other people’s acceptance of me. I am defined by how God, and myself see me.

Aza –  When did you realize that you had overcome your obstacles, or what let you know that you had really made a change in your life for the better?

Robert- Earlier this year my wife and I were going through a period of turmoil. We were experiencing so many crises at one time. My wife was hospitalized after she suffered a nervous breakdown stemming from trauma she suffered as a child, we were facing homelessness and bankruptcy, and I was waiting to find out if I got approved for medication to treat a potentially fatal disease I had contracted while I was an active addict. While my wife was hospitalized, my leadership and advocacy skills were given a chance to shine – and shine they did. Due to God’s unfailing mercy and love, He blessed me with the ability to navigate this huge storm. During the thick of the “battle”, a happy thought popped into my mind. Not once during this whole ordeal did the urge to drink come into my mind. I had been truly set free from my previous life. With a huge smile on my face, I said a prayer of thanksgiving to God. Fast forward to now – my wife is well on the road to recovery; I got approved for my medication, and am fully cured; we are happy home-owners; and we both have jobs we enjoy. Life is great, and God is good – all the time.

To learn more about Robert, please visit his website here: https://robertgallant.wordpress.com/
To check out Robert’s books, please visit his Amazon profile here: amazon.com/author/robertgallant
It is his utmost desire that you find much hope, inspiration, and growth from these works, and those to come.

I’d like to thank Robert again for his time, honesty, and openness. I also congratulate him for coming so far from such a painful life.

We each face huge challenges in our lives, but we can rise up and meet them, no matter our backgrounds. Keep moving forward!

Love and Peace
Aza

Angry at the System?

Hey Readers! Today, I want to talk about one of those things that can seem to never go away after your conviction.

And for once, it’s not just the conviction itself.

It’s the anger.

I know that I recall being very angry throughout the charge and holding process, through all the court dates, and even after finishing my sentence.

Today, I’m not so angry. The only reason I’m not as angry anymore?

Well, for one, I took accountability for my actions in the charged crime. I figured out that, yes, I had indeed screwed up royally and that I did need to make changes in my mindset and my lifestyle to avoid making such a mistake again.

Secondly, I realized that the issues I was facing in employment and housing weren’t necessarily total barriers, they were simply obstacles that I had to overcome on my own merit. Each time I heard a ‘NO’ from an interviewing employer or the local housing authority/landlord, I used to think it was impossible to overcome.

But it is.

I’ve rented a couple different properties, and even owned my own property for a time. I’ve also held a range of jobs, from waitressing to advocate work, and from changing oil to filling vending machines. And everything in between as well as on the side.

Instead of viewing the issues you face as irreversible roadblocks, view them as road bumps, or re-directions toward what you’re truly meant for.

As an example, I will share one of my experiences, from just a few years ago.

I was 23 (five years into the conviction [two years after finishing my sentence]) and between homes, yet again. I had managed to finagle a room from a friend for a temporary place to crash with my boy, who was only three at the time. The whole single mom thing going on, you know. Between shifts at work and making sure my sitter was at the ready in case of a sudden change of plans, I found time to get applications for rental properties in.

The place I had in mind needed to be under $500 a month, ideally around $300, but I did have room in my budget to adjust (namely quitting smoking – again, and not doing the whole fast food thing anymore – no matter how easy it was to walk across the street from my job for my lunch break).

So, the first few places I tried for were in the local trailer parks. I figured they would be easier on the background check, as well as the monthly rental check.

I also threw in a couple house rental applications in, just for good measure and to expand the list of ‘possibles’. I didn’t think any of them would stick, but I wanted to take a chance, just in case.

I got a call from one of the trailer parks soon after, went to the interview and had a wonderful time meeting the landlord and looking at the trailers he had available. One of them was perfect, and I was amped about the chance to have it as my own. But, in the days following, when they would normally be getting back in touch and arranging your move-in day, I never got a call.

Well, …. at least not a call from the trailer park.

I got one of the houses that I applied for within a week of applying for it!

It was just under the upper limit of my budget, but WOW, it was such a great little house and on such a huge property! My son was so much happier with finally having a real yard to play in, and I was happy about having neighbors that were more than ten feet away from me.

So, while I didn’t get what I wanted, I found what I needed at that time.  It might not have been permanent, but permanence isn’t a part of my life. And from what I hear out of my limited interaction – it’s probably not a part of your life either.

I know you might be in a rough place right now, but trust in yourself and your ability to find what you need. There will be a lot of ‘NO’s’ to deal with, but trust in the re-direction that it provides (well, actually, it sort of forces you to take a new path) and that you will find that ‘YES’ you’re wanting.

Keep going, stay strong, and above all ~ RISE ABOVE~

Love and Peace,

Aza

Feeling Hopeless? (Spreading Success)

Hey Readers! It’s been a busy, crazy couple of weeks for me and mine. Late deep cleaning of the house, multiple new room-mates – including a beautiful doggy, and new installments at my day job. It’s been an adjustment, but we’re muddling through.

Speaking of adjustments, one thing that I recall from my early years of felon-hood – is that feeling of hopelessness. Well, hopelessness and a lot of anger, but we’ll focus on the sad and lost bit today.

I’m here today to let you know that even with a felony record, you can still have a good, normal life. I’ve been expanding my network recently, and I’ve met a few really awesome people that have overcome their conviction based obstacles. I’ve also met some people that were still very upset with the limitations they perceived as a felon. I want to help reduce the stress that comes with this ‘social brand’ ( the whole – we might as well have a giant red F on our shirts – kind of idea).

For instance, I joined Reddit recently and am participating in the /ExCons, /Felons, and /exConvicts subreddits. One recent post was entirely focused on the negative aspects of having a felony.

And it really felt like a punch to the gut…. and then… I realized, wait… I’ve DONE half the things on this ‘felons can’t do it’ list. And I posted in response to let the poster know what I had accomplished in spite of my felony background. I might not have done all the things on their list of frustrations, but I couldn’t just sit there and let this person make more people frustrated with their post.

Now, this is not to say that there are no limitations in our lives, especially early on after our conviction, but that only lasts for a short time. And honestly, it’s a good period for reflection and learning about yourself and how to hone in on your strengths so that you can dazzle employers and landlords with the fact that you’ve improved yourself.

So, the best way I’ve figured to help lift up some of you that might be feeling hopeless, is to give examples of those who have overcome the obstacles we felons face.

My best friend was convicted as a manufacturer 12 years ago, she now owns her own home, has three beautiful kids, and is in medical coding. She’s also been totally clean for a decade – huge kudos to her!

A friend was convicted of multiple felony fraud charges 4 years ago, he now makes 12 grand a month selling cars.

A relative has multiple assault charges, and has been able to become a well paid hygienist.

I’ve met numerous new acquaintances recently who have just finished their associates and bachelors degrees, who have just paid off their homes, and who have earned their rights to their children back as well.  On top of all this, I also just read about a felon that became a judge (public office is NOT off limits for most of us!).

Now, while our situations are all different, I have to say that it would seem we are NOT as hopeless and limited as we sometimes feel. I’m not saying the path to success for my friends, family, and new acquaintances was easy in any way.

What I am saying – is that success is possible – however you define it for yourself – IT CAN HAPPEN.

Turn away from hopelessness, find the light within yourself, and find the thing that fuels you to become better than your background.

That’s all for today guys, thank you so much for stopping by! Don’t forget to check out some older posts while you’re here, and feel free to comment or even send a message if you need some individualized guidance. I’m here to help and I love each and every one of you for being strong enough to find your path to freedom.

Peace and Love – Aza

Raging Against the Ticket (Final Update)

Hey Reader! Glad to see you back again! I have my final update about the ticket that I was given this April. Imagine that, it took a whole two months to straighten out! Goodness. Oh, well, that’s just how it goes when you play by their rules.

Alright, so, I got dressed up again (nice blouse and khaki pants this time, a suit would have been over the top for this discussion I’m thinking), and made my way up the courthouse stairs. I find a seat, and wait my turn to talk to the state’s attorney assistant.

After waiting a few minutes past my time, (it seemed a bit busy that day, and as she likely had multiple individuals to talk to with varying cases, I didn’t much mind), I was finally called in.

We review the ticket information, both the state statute (I brought a printed copy of that statute with me), as well as my recollection of the events. I had brought photos of the area that the officer had been parked at, and we looked it over and I had to point out where she was parked in relation to the hill. I explained that I did indeed drop my speed to a safe one, and had moved partially into the adjacent lane to make for an easier recovery should another vehicle have appeared at the crest of the hill at the worst time possible.

After this, and a few quiet moments where she looked through her large legal book, assuredly containing every possible detail about the law, she told me she would dismiss this ticket. The best part is that she complimented me for being prepared and for being honest.

I tell you what Readers… I danced my way down those stairs and to my car.

So, should you ever encounter a ticket situation where you are confident (honestly confident) that you did not actually break the law, simply be prepared and be calm. Know your limitations though too. Even though I knew personally that I had not broken a law, I was still scared silly that I would be forced to pay a huge fee and be embarrassed by a new ticket on my record (and since I am currently driving for my living, that’s a super mega bad deal). The reason why, is that I know how unreasonable the court system CAN be. It isn’t always. and this was a small victory for me, especially considering that I do have a felony record.

So, rejoice fellow drivers, you CAN win your traffic ticket, and avoid the embarrassment and wallet-emptying that tickets can cause. At least when you’re well prepared and are open and honest about the circumstances (and have a chance to speak to the state’s attorney people).

Also, please check out my second most recent post, which asks for your paranormal and supernatural stories. I even share one of my own experiences to get the ball rolling on the creepy and wonderful things that dig into our spirituality and change our perspectives.

That’s all for now guys, I’ll be jumping back into work on my books and will post more soon. Thanks for stopping by and I hope to see you here again! -Aza

Part Two Work Flexibility

Welcome back reader, let’s dig into part two of work flexibility.

I attempt to be very upfront with companies even if they don’t run background checks. (I know I mentioned this before, but I gotta repeat it)

At every single interview, I will bring up the fact that I am a felon, what my conviction was, and what I’ve done since my conviction. Now, half the time, it bites me directly in the arse. I won’t lie about that either. A good portion of people that were ready to hire me on the spot immediately withdrew their hand or waved me off impatiently as if I had wasted their time. (No consideration of the expenses I’d made toward fuel for traveling to the interview, my own time, and the often suffocating feeling of defeat they dealt me, mind you.)

However, it’s also won over a number of hiring managers, and they’ve been willing to put their arse on the line for me. This technique, a disposition toward being open and honest, has by far given me the most job opportunities. And thanks to the steadily shifting job market, I have had repeated opportunities to test and re-test this method.

As for the jobs that I have held over the years, they include the first post-conviction mystery job (ha, thought I was going to tell didn’t you?), waitressing, bar-tending, and then an intensive dive into the automotive industry.

My most stable positions have been in the automotive industry by far, as I personally have the knack for it (all three, [yes, three] parents were aviators and both fathers were mechanics with histories of being mechanics in their heritage).

I’ve also found that call centers and transcribing jobs are generally willing to work with felons (thanks to very strict rules within the call centers for information – no phones, no papers, no writing utensils, etc ).

More recently, I just ended my two-year employment with a local blind vendor (these guys have programs in every state). It was a great job, but my car crapped out so I’m back to freelancing (see my Extra Work from Home post for more on that!)

I also highly recommend attempting to get your work history built up through temporary labor agencies when you have one available to you. They are not the greatest jobs by far, but they will provide an income, and more importantly an avenue to better jobs to come.

The more experience that you can get in any sort of employment, the more you can give to the next job that you really want. Some of the day labor places will require a very intense dedication, as some places get clogged with substance abusers who will start a line at the door at 4 am (when the door doesn’t open until 6 am, just to get the jump on the day’s list of needed workers. And even if you do get in line early, you may not be asked to take a job for over a week, and still, you’ll have to come into the agency each morning until you get to know the dispatchers behind the desk.

Other labor agencies will add you to a larger compiled list of possible employees, and once they get to a job that you might be matched with, they will call you. This is a safer investment of time, but may take much longer to find work that works with you.

That’s all I can think of, for now. But keep checking back for more!

Love and Peace,
Aza