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

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

The Early Morning Struggle

Good Morning Readers, it’s approximately 5:16 am, and I’ve been up for nearly an hour already.

It’s breakfast shift day at my payroll job.

Partly my own fault for volunteering, but I also have inventory to deal with today. Either way, thanks to the lovely cold in the Midwest right now, my car loves to not start immediately.

As I was cursing my volunteering spirit, and the poor, cold battery that has been struggling for its life for the last month or so, I realized that the sort of determination I was showing was part of why I’ve moved so far forward.

Are you the person who lets those moments of frustration overwhelm them? Or are you the one that pushes through the frustration and makes things happen?

No matter how many times my car has refused to start in this weather, I don’t let it quit, because I know I CAN’T QUIT either. It doesn’t matter if it’s just while I’m facing off with a loose battery post in 0 degree Fahrenheit for the eighteenth time in a morning – or going to that millionth interview where my background is going to get brought up again (even after an entire decade of good behavior) – I make the best of those situations, and push through them – because I have a goal.

And I’m determined to reach it.

Keep pushing forward guys! Even on those cold, dark mornings, where it seems the sun will never light your day.

Love and Peace – (a very cold and sleepy) Aza

Resources / Reading List

I’ve compiled another list of newly released reading materials, some are helpful for a variety of reasons, others are simply fun (make note that some may have strong language – if you’re against that sort of thing – you’ll want to double check the ratings)!  These are all on Smashwords (they have every format you need too!) – as it’s not only one of my own publishing platforms, but it’s an amazing supporter of indie publishing and they offer a wonderful affiliate program so that we authors can help each other out. Check them out and I hope you enjoy!

For fellow aspiring authors:

Author Secrets

For those who need to find some quiet in their mind:

How to Meditate

The Happiness Paragraph

For those who want to manage time better:

Time Management

For those self improvement types like me:

Motivation and Personality

Grit – I Can and I Will

For entertainment:

Trigger Warning

 

 

 

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

 

Building a Local Marketing Pack

Hey Readers!

As always, I’m staying productive and busy, and I’ve been working on a few different projects recently.

While I am pursuing an online marketing plan (we’re in the very early stages of this – more on it later) , I also wanted to try to get the book out to my local felons.

So, I’ve been playing with Canva non-stop, and trying out different templates in Microsoft Word and Publisher.

These are the ones I’ve settled on for my local marketing plan. The packs will be sent to over ten local probation offices for the first run, and will be expanded to halfway homes, shelters, and other community organizations that tend to cater to those with background problems.

Check them out and let me know what you think!

Marketing Letter 2 Probation Offices 

Marketing Flyer Probation Offices 1      

Marketing Sample Content Page Pack

I’ll admit that I really hate marketing, but since I need to reach out to people that don’t know I’m here offering help, I know I have to do it, even if it feels kinda gross. All I can keep thinking about is how I react to marketing and having things basically shoved in my face – examples: hanging up on cold callers (although its more scam things these days), throwing out mail that I don’t recognize, etc, etc. I mean, who wants to be on the sending/calling side of that? However, there aren’t really any other ways to get out there locally.

I’ll also be starting to offer motivational speeches on how I overcame my own obstacles and how it is possible for you to do the same. This will begin on a local scale as well, and might expand if I have enough of a positive impact.

That’s all for now guys! Peace and Love

-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

Calling All Felons!

Hey guys! I know… I’m actually posting more than I ever really have, but work has slowed down this week, so I have extra time on my hands for now.

I’ve been working on a questionnaire to help better identify the issues we all face. Since we have a lot of possible scenarios, I want to explore how it affects each of us differently.

The answers are mostly in your own words, to allow for however much you want to share concerning each question.

Check out the link here: https://goo.gl/forms/6GlSPwe6HjJqdMqH3

Don’t forget to check out some of the older posts where tips and hints can be found, as well as some personal stories!

Finding Freedom (Full Release)

Hey Readers!

It’s been a long two weeks since I uploaded my work into Smashwords, but the book is finally fully released!

If you haven’t pre-ordered it already, please use this coupon code to get your copy from any retailer for only one dollar! (CF98Q ) (Smashwords Link)

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

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

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

Stay strong fellow felons, we got this!

Felony Pro-Tip

So, if you’re like me, and have a felony on your record, you’re probably noticing that employers are not as willing to see you and work with you. Half the time you can almost watch them as they review the application, see a note about your record and promptly chuck it into the trash can.

Well, maybe not quite that way,  but it certainly feels that way. However, there is a shred of hope for us, especially if you’re also like me and have been behaving and staying out of trouble with the court system, you might have a chance at earning something called a Certificate of Good Conduct. Now, I know for sure that Illinois has this available, you may have to search for your state information to be entirely certain for your situation. The legal beagles like to have variations on things between states as many people can testify.

In Illinois, if you have just a single felony and have been behaved for at least 3 years (along with a couple other requirements that are dependent on the type of conviction), you qualify to apply for a Certificate of Good Conduct. Now, what this certificate does is take away liability from the hiring company for hiring someone with a record. It won’t erase your record, but it will help people see that you’ve turned a new leaf, taken a new path, and generally have played nicely with society for a while. This helps give employers a reason to hire you and it helps protect them.

For my Certificate of Good Conduct, I took myself to the doctor and ordered a drug test on myself (The receptionist was rather confused at first, but was happy to schedule it for me). Then I got a copy of my criminal record, available at the local courthouse (and state police, or federal records can work as well, I’m sure). With these papers combined, along with the filing papers for the application for Certificate of Good Conduct, I got myself a court date.

I actually had a major advantage with the court, as no one in my county had ever attempted to earn this certificate before to the judge’s recollection, and I  knew more about the Certificate than they did (Didn’t stop them from having a mini-conference about it and checking their law books). They didn’t even have a nice official paper that looks like a degree and portrays what the Certificate is. I only managed to get an updated note on my court file, but I print it out for consideration when I need to prove to an employer that I have it.

Best part is, this is only one of the possible ways to get a leg-up in the employment world. There is far more to come, and I look forward to sharing it with you!