Recovery Event – Recent Things

Hello Readers!

Your favorite felon has been one busy gal recently. Between landing two steady writing gigs (huzzah for determination!), I’ve also been recovering from the loss of a dear family member and getting the homeschooling year started, as well as preparing for a local event that celebrates recovery in all forms.

It’s been a rough and tedious couple of months, but this particular event reminded me that my work need not overtake my life – no matter how much I love it – and that I had been letting this side of things fall to the wayside. Which is not what I want to do at all – there’s still too much to be done in the realm of re-entry after conviction.

I arrived about forty minutes early, once I found the entry to the pavilion – unfamiliar territories always prove interesting for me. I always hate when I’m lost in those winding parks that dot the MidWest because I know I look insane as I frantically search for the building I need to be in while inching by whatever pedestrians might be around. /shiver

While still a bit unsure, I wandered around the area on foot until I found a familiar face – the wonderful woman that has recently founded a new approach to recovery through her own experiences. I won’t share her name here – but take it from me – she’s inspiring. We’ve even bounced ideas off of each other as we found different ways to rehabilitate our mindsets to find our own versions of freedom and happiness. Which is even better because there’s history there – and it’s not always common to see close friends on the track to recovery. It’s a beautiful thing when it does happen though, so cherish it if you have it.

We set our tables up and took turns manning tables, swapping information, and she even took a huge step and actually spoke in front of people. I know I’ve talked about doing that before, but I still haven’t reached that point yet – so I’m extra thrilled that she was able to push herself to do the public speaking thing and share her story that way. I was also able to meet a few new people on both sides of the fence, in just about every way you can define that phrase. From freshly convicted and currently supervised, to family members awaiting the release of loved ones, to genuinely interested program directors and board members of local institutions. The area judge was even present and shared the successes of the new problem-solving court that he’d recently implemented (both in terms of success stories and the financial savings that real rehabilitation efforts can offer the taxpayer). It was amazing and heart-warming to see the dedication that was obvious in the hearts of all that were present and to connect with like-minded positive individuals. The event focused on the hope that we need to utilize to heal from the past and keep moving forward in a positive way.

Overall, it was an invigorating and positive experience with fantastic people that want to help. Hearing some of the stories I did today, I can’t help but think back over my past, replaying the major events of the three years of bad choices that led to my own conviction, about the loss and depression that fueled a lot of those decisions, the addictions I toyed with and my overall tendency to destroy myself every time I found something good, and I realize that while I probably wouldn’t have chosen the life I’ve had – it’s the life I needed to find my purpose and to fully discover the things that I am truly passionate about. I also wouldn’t wish any of my experiences on my worst enemies – the bottom of the barrel is too hateful a place to be. I’m reminded of why I love to help those in need – breathing easy in life is something that is too often taken for granted and it’s far too fragile in all honesty.  But with a little bit of help, and a little bit of hope, we can lift each other up beyond our wildest dreams.

Love and Peace,
Aza (@Aza_Enigma)

 

 

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Five Things Felons Need to Know

Welcome back Reader!

Today, I’ve got a short list of five things that felons should know after their conviction.

This isn’t a hate post either, I am the Friendly Felon after all – so you’re in store for some nifty information that is really going to give you hope and help you get back on track.

That’s what I’m all about here – finding those little rays of hope for a better life and growing that into a goal you can reach. Just thought I’d mention that for the newcomers – because they might not have known what they were getting themselves into here. (Partly why Enigma is part of my chosen moniker)

Anyway, without further ado, I present my newest list:

Felons Should Know:

1. We can get the majority of our civil rights back – and some states even allow restoration of rights immediately after you finish your last day locked up or once you get released from whatever level supervision you might be on. This includes voting, earning a public office seat in a governmental body, and more. Some rights will take more time than others, and every state is different in their limits, but ultimately – the rights are available again once you’ve kept yourself out of trouble for a while. Not a bad bargain really.

2. We can gain legal certificates that help us get jobs. First, there is a federal bonding program that is available for all felons in every state across the entire nation. There are also some states that offer a ‘Certificate of Good Conduct’, or a ‘Certificate of Relief from Disability’. Both of these help with getting a job, and one can even help you get a professional license. You’ll have to earn these with a lot of research and a lot of action – but it is completely possible!

3. We can do anything we put our minds to! If you’re a felon that wants to go to college, there’s not much that can stop you. Sex convictions aside, most felons – including drug-related convictions (might have to wait for financial aid to be allowed again, but otherwise chances of acceptance aren’t terrible)- can attend college without hassle. I’ve been accepted numerous times into various colleges for interior design, art, beauty school, and psychology. I might have only stuck with one of these choices, but all of them were willing to work with me regardless of my background. The payment of the tuition is the biggest hassle here, but most convictions can apply within just a few years of completion of your sentence.

4. We need to be honest about our backgrounds with employers. When you hide it, you’re just wasting time (yours and the employers to be honest). There might be restrictions in various states as to how far back the background search can go – but in many cases, a simple background search performed online will bring up every single conviction under your name. It is a much better idea to be honest, and spend more time learning how to prove you’re a good employee to potential employers. (Character references, volunteer experiences, letters from probation, parole, etc, anything and everything that gives ‘proof’ of a good worker).

5. We are worth the effort it takes to overcome our obstacles. Just because we made a mistake doesn’t mean that our lives have to be over or that we’re doomed to a life inside an institution or on the ‘wrong side’ of the street. Of course, if you want to continue the life that brought you to this point – that’s up to you. Personally, I recommend picking the important pieces of yourself up and building a better life – it’s the most difficult thing to do – but that just means it will be that much more meaningful when you accomplish your goals.

So, that concludes my list for the day – I hope you like it and if you want more information about how to overcome your conviction related obstacles – please purchase a copy of my Guide to Life After a Felony – available in print on Microcosm and on just about every eBook retailer out there – click here for the Kindle edition.

If you want some personalized research done for your situation – I offer that on Fiverr – click on the Hire Aza link at the top of the page – I’m here for you to help you meet your goals and dreams. It’s what I do – seriously, it’s all I think about. Keep going strong everyone! Rise above!

Love and Peace,
Aza (@aza_enigma Twitter)

Why I LOVE Microcosm Publishing!

Hey Readers!

I wanted to talk about the print publishing company I chose (and who thankfully accepted my pitch!) and why I have come to adore them.

First off, the name caught my attention – many authors might not go for something that has the word ‘micro’ in it – as it gives the impression of smallness. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth with these guys.

The definition of microcosm is basically a community that encapsulates huge ideas in a small way. This relates to how small a book might seem in your hand, but the ideas that are contained within that little book are SO much larger.

And I gotta say – I love that. It’s a great reference to the whole idea of publishing books and sharing the ideas and information that we hold dear to our personal interests.

Second, have you seen the stuff they carry? If not – you seriously need to check them out. Not only do they carry my first ever finished book (Guide to Life After a Felony), but they offer a TON of awesome books. Just check out this screenshot of their homepage:

00 a Microcosm screen snip

And this is just a teeny tiny sample!

In addition to this, as I generally self-publish online through the typical indie routes, I had to ask – would they let me keep my stuff out there? To my genuine surprise – they were willing to work with me and let me continue to have my own version out there – and from what I had read in some of the writer forums – this doesn’t seem to happen often – but I’m extremely grateful for it either way. (Feel free to share if your experience with a publisher was different, I’d love to hear it!)

My final reason to adore this company is that in all honesty – this was the ONLY publisher I applied (pitched?) my manuscript to – and somehow I impressed them enough to earn a chance to publish with them. I personally think their site just spoke to me once I found them in my research phase, and not a single other company seemed to hold similar values or perspectives. As a felon, I’m basically part of the sub-cultures that aren’t often appreciated or given a chance to speak – and Microcosm provides a beautiful avenue on which to share your ideas with those that are on a similar wave-length. Of course, they might not be for everyone – perspectives are widely varied so I get it if you’re not diggin’ it.

(Additional note: No, I wasn’t paid for this in any way by them – I honestly just want to give them this shout-out because they’ve been so amazing to work with! Everything I am posting here is my own authentic opinion and I probably should say that my views shouldn’t be taken as a direct reflection of their views – just to be on the safe side ya know?)

So, can you see why I think these guys are so wonderful yet? If not, go ahead and take a look for yourself – I’m pretty sure you’ll be just as impressed as I was. Microcosm Publishing might be just what you need in your life!

That’s all I got for today guys, hope you like it and find something nifty and useful from it!

Love and peace,
Aza

Five Things You Should Know About Felons

Hey guys, thank you for stopping by! I’m so grateful for all the supports, shares, follows, and likes in my various social media platforms.

Today, I’ve compiled a few things that felons need you (yes, YOU) to know.

Let’s take a look at what the felon community wants to share with everyone!

  1. Criminal Records are more common than you might think – weareallcriminals.org shares that ‘one in four people have a criminal record’. While this includes misdemeanors (which carry far less stigma – even if many convicted felons were only sentenced to probation or time in a county jail – which is the same punishment for many misdemeanors!), it really draws your attention to the fact that criminal records are actually quite common. That would be because…
  2. We all make mistakes – now, while only one in four has a criminal record – it can be safely assumed that at least three in four (if not four in four) have committed a crime of some level (misdemeanors included here again), they just weren’t caught or convicted. Again, weareallcriminals.org comes into play and shares stories of people who realized that they could have had their entire livelihood taken from them – had they been caught and joined the ranks of ‘convicts’.
  3.  Felons CAN change for the better – even if they’ve earned more than a few convictions. One participant in my poll describes how she’s earning a degree to work in social welfare after SIX convictions. It might take some of us longer to get out of the rut, but when we do – many of us want to contribute to the greater good. We aren’t hardwired to stay ‘bad’ like so much of society wants to think – we just have to find what will truly motivate us to make a positive change in our lives. That motivation varies for each of us – as well as the situations that lead us to our convictions.
  4. Background checks ONLY show the negatives – even when we’ve made positive changes. So, when you’re an employer that’s looking at an interviewee who has just opened up about their record – consider asking about the GOOD things that they’ve done. Rather than immediately assuming that felons are nothing but bad news – try to see the things that they are trying to change in their life. Because honestly, the income that we are seeking with you is going to be part of keeping a stable life that won’t push us back into old patterns of behavior. Many felons hang in the balance – trying to get back on track in a society that doesn’t want to let them have the chance – no matter how much we have changed for the better.
  5. Felons have a lot of GOOD to contribute – As a felon, I know that every time I find a new job – I have to work five times harder than my co-workers (and the felon community is very familiar with that sentiment) just to prove that I’m worth keeping as an employee. Employers are wasting talent when they deny felons work – especially when that work has NOTHING to do with the background. For instance, my theft record might prevent me from working in retail (thankfully I have literally zero interest in retail stores), but I’m qualified and capable in the field of psychology and coaching.

Overall, felons just want a chance to find a stable life. Our packaging might be a little bit damaged – but we have a lot to offer when given a chance. So, before you judge us based on your assumptions – take a moment and take a chance – there’s plenty of protection for employers (certificates of employability, certificates of good conduct, certificates of relief from disability [this one is a bit confusing in the title but still a great thing]). As far as society goes – who hasn’t made a mistake? We’re all flawed but we’re still beautiful people.

That’s all for today folks! Thank you for stopping by and feel free to click around and explore the various posts and links I share on the blog page. If you love what you see, please share it, especially if you know someone that needs the information I’m sharing with you!

Love and peace,
Aza

 

 

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.

 

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

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 its way into holding itself as the 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. (I have to remember to let this go sometimes as I’m a bit of a control freak)

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 out on the perfect opportunity that’s just waiting to give you the best experience in your life! (Right after another hard fall – in some cases anyway)

Keep growing and rising above my fabulous felons – you’re amazing and capable! Go be awesome!

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!

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 immediately noticed 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 and moving on with his day. 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 the 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