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

Sometimes we just have to wait….

Hey Readers!

There’s been a lot going on in the life of your dear Friendly Felon, and I just wanted to touch base and let you all know I am indeed still with the living.

Between the day job and the writing, it’s gotten hectic. The payroll job keeps trying to worm it’s way into holding itself as a main priority in life – when it really isn’t. Yes, it’s paying bills, but it’s not where I want my life to grow. Either way, right now, it’s sort of overwhelming everything else.

I’m also deep into the editing and beta reading phase of the up and coming ‘Letters of Love and War” (that title will change – it’s already been taken, sadly). Currently, I’m waiting for beta reader input, and waiting for the appointment with a possible photographer for the cover. (I’d love to use photos of the letters that are the basis of the book) But, these things take time, and it’s time that I’m not in control of. (Gotta remember to let go sometimes)

So, this is my reminder, that sometimes things have to wait.

We can still work toward our goals, we can still take baby steps in the right directions, and we can still get things done, even while we wait.

Just don’t get too caught up in the tasks you find while you’re waiting, or you might miss the perfect opportunity.

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

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

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

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

Pushing Boundaries and Developing Skills

Hey Readers! Hope all is well for you!

 

It’s been an interesting month for me, as there have been some suggestions in the works for offering speeches.

Now, not only am I a shy and somewhat anxious person, I’ve also been trained by society in some ways to feel that my opinions are not worthy and that I’m more likely to fail than other people. Simply because I made a mistake and earned a record – over a decade ago.

It is amazing to have that sort of suggestion thrown my way, because of those reasons. And it’s rather validating in a way, even if I still have that nagging voice in the back of my head saying…”Hahahaha – you’re gonna do WHAT? That’s hilarious!!!”.

Now, do I have any idea how to create a speech from scratch? …Not really…

Do I have any experience talking in big groups? …. (falls over laughing)

Do I have any experience with videos, editing, or uploading? …. absolutely not…

Am I gonna dig in, do some research, and create the best experience for my audience as possible?? …. We have a winner!

You know why I’m saying yes? I’m saying yes, because opportunity is knocking at my door. I’m saying yes, because I believe in every felon that wants their life to be better – deserves the right to find a path to that. I’m saying yes, because growth might be painful sometimes, but it’s one of the most beautiful things in life.

It won’t be easy, and I won’t like all of it, but I know I’ll learn some new skills, some new ideas, meet new people, and have more chances to make a positive impact on how felons are viewed in society.

You and me? We’re both worth more than we realize, and we need to remember that. Start looking for opportunities to create positive interactions, and be a part of the change, not only in yourself and your life, but the life of every other struggling felon out there.

Love and Peace,
Aza

 

Who Likes Reading? (raises hand)

Hey Readers! Back again today with a short list of inspiring reads I’ve found on Smashwords while doing a bit of research.

I’ve bookmarked them for myself too, for that rainy day that I have off every now and then. Hopefully, I’ll snag enough time to finish these before the end of the year, so I can use them as stepping stones for my goals next year!

Check them out below:

1. Smashword Reading List Book 1
I’m hoping to get into the interviewer mindset from this, to help build a workshop for local ex-offenders who need interview training.

2.  Smashword Reading List Book 2
Who doesn’t love getting pumped up with inspirational quotes? These are fuel for me, and also give additional perspective on the various situations we can encounter.

3. Smashword Reading List Book 3
This one, well, it seems a lot more blunt from the title, and yes.. you’ll have to click to find out what it is. I have a feeling that I’m going to love it, the reviews are wicked, and I can’t resist that darkly honest and slightly edgy writing style and perspective.

Thanks for stopping by again! Love and Peace
Aza