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

 

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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’ (Yeah, I work from my bed – don’t look at me like that), with my laptop comfortably perched across my thighs, I realize that I’ve been writing basically non-stop since 8am this morning… chugging Rockstar energy drinks (even though I’m still using my Thrive supplement – I just really love the taste of ‘crack in a can’ as I fondly call it in the stores– I’m only a little addicted I swear…). Anyway, it’s past lunch already and I’m rockin’ it out.

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 I run out of Rockstar because there are 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 crazy situation… I shudder thinking about it personally)

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 or even in one day, 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 – and that needs to STOP if you want the cold hard truth).

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 – 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

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

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

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

 

 

Extra Work at Home

Hey Readers!

I thought I might compile a bit of a list of all the various online work I’ve tried out over the years. There are a lot of decent online jobs and many are fairly relaxed about who they hire (no worries fellow felons) – some are even easy ways of building your very own business where YOU get to be the boss.

Let’s dig right in:

  1. Fiverr – This is favorite freelancer friendly platform, Fiverr allows you to create a variety of Gigs to sell online. You can offer digital services – like writing, voice overs, video editing, graphics, art and more – as well as physically shipped items. (I’ve made a killing with my clay rune sets!) Check it out HERE
  2. Observa – This is basically an inspection gig, where you get notified of stores in your area that need certain products photographed. It helps if you live near a large city for this – as smaller towns don’t have as many opportunities.
  3.  We Go Look – Another inspection based job, get dressed up in some professional looking garb, go to your accepted job, take some photos of damaged vehicles or property and upload them in the app. It’s super simple, and you can make typically $20 per job. Again, much better results in a larger city, however, I was able to make about $100 per month even in a rural area – when the gigs were available anyway.
  4. TranscribeMe – This one is great for any of my typists out there. Got those wicked fast fingers and good hearing? This one is for you. Listen to recordings and type out what you hear – following grammar rules of course!
  5. Zazzle – If you’re into playing with PhotoShop and creating cool images – you can create all sorts of products with your designs and sell them for free on Zazzle.
  6. Writing Ebooks – If you love to create stories or if you’re a research aficionado – writing and publishing (in any way) might be a great opportunity for you! Smashwords, Amazon KDP, and many others are great places to start!
  7. UpWork – This is another freelancing site, and it’s similar to Fiverr, but has a lot of differences. Check it out and see what you can earn!
  8. Inbox Dollars – This is one of those survey sites, and while it can be really annoying to go through, there is the real potential to make a decent side income here. I tend to rely on the Scratch and Win – after letting the TV section play for a while. I’ve been back with them for about a month now, and I’m already up $10 with minimal work.

Well, there you have it, a good place to start for working from home! And this is really just a small sample of what is available out there on these wide webs. 😛

Don’t forget to like and comment what your favorite side job is and what has worked best for you!

Love and Peace – Aza

I never think ‘I can’t’ …

Hey Readers! Hope all is well for you, and if not, that it gets better soon!

I was meditating on the various topics to post about on here, and one thing I realized I hadn’t talked about yet – is how I’ve changed my perspective in relation to my background and to life in general.

There are a couple experiences I’ve had over the years that really made me realize just how much I’ve begun to apply my determination to succeed in all aspects of my life.  Strangely enough, they are the experiences where I was denied. Let’s delve in, so I can explain how it hit me last night.

The first experience where I didn’t let a denial stop me, was when I had to have dental work done. My addiction to energy drinks had taken its toll on my teeth, and it was time to pay the piper with partial dentures so I could keep smiling. I was assured I’d be covered for what I wanted done, and well, only after the extraction did my dentist realize my insurance wouldn’t cover the partials I’d need to smile fully again.
Total bummer right? Not exactly. Instead of hiding out in my house and never leaving or working with people again, I began to research how to make my own.
And guess what… I have had fully functional, perfectly fitting partial dentures ever since then, that I make in my own home.  For anyone that is interested – I get my kits from Monster Makers – adapting a novelty dental kit to my needs. No, I don’t get commission from them, they’re just the most efficient place for me to buy the kit from because everything I need is included. You’ll screw up a few times if you try it out, but as with all things, you get better with practice. I also like to make special Halloween teeth just to freak people out around the holidays – It’s pretty awesome in it’s own way – which is yet another silver lining to that whole experience.

Another time where it really sank home that I’d changed my perspective is when I finally applied for college courses in 2012. I was getting fed up with working over time and still not being able to pay all my bills because I couldn’t get a decent paying job. I reached out to a few colleges, and got accepted by the ones I wanted. Did I ever stop to think that my background would stop me? Not really. I did make a point to bring it up in every interview, just to give the advisors a heads up, but because it had been over 5 years, none of the advisors I spoke with gave a damn about my theft record.  I didn’t let the idea of it overwhelm me, like it would have in the past – when I was still freshly released and in a different mindset.

Did I ever think that I wouldn’t find a way to provide for my needs in these examples? Nope. Not once I realized that where there is a will – there is a way.

I remember years before this, I would have never even tried to do anything because I would have figured right away that I’d be denied anything and everything because I was a worthless exconvict. (Totally not true by the way – for any of us – don’t let that mindset take you!)

I have to give my second father credit for helping this sort of mindset be possible though. He was an aviator (if I haven’t told you before), and he was a curious fellow. He gained a bit of notoriety in our community because he didn’t let inconveniences stop him. Here’s the story on that:

Dad began building a section of a wing for an airplane that he was building (and it wasn’t the first or last one…..). The fun part—-He began it in an upper bedroom of his house and forgot to move it as the wing became bigger and bigger. ….So.. as the wing grew in size, it couldn’t join the rest of the project downstairs in one of the large sheds he used for hangars.
Instead of stopping, giving up, or taking the thing apart to move it…. he decided to keep on, and just use a chainsaw to open the exterior wall of the room when it was done – so that he and his family could bring it out.

Yes.. there are photos somewhere… and I’ll try to update this eventually to share them once I find them and get permission from the family to do so. It’s quite epic to imagine – let alone see the proof.

That’s all for today guys! Love and Peace

Aza