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)

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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

 

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

Fiverr Freelancer

Hey Readers!

Today, I’m talking about Fiverr again.

Now, I love this freelance platform – it’s popular, easy to use, and has safeguards against all those nasty spammers that love to write bad checks and steal credit cards. (That’s a whole ‘nother story in itself)

I’m also currently frustrated with it.

They’ve recently updated their Seller Level system, and this is a great thing really. Honestly it is.
Except that the statistics they’re using doesn’t seem to quite mesh properly with the requirements of the new seller badge system.

For example, they’ve removed messages from my inbox before. Assuming they were spammers, that’s fine and dandy, but when they also reduced my response rate for messages that I was never allowed to interact with (thanks… I guess?)

Every single other message has been responded to in a very timely manner. Which should mean a !00% rating on response …right?

Wrong.

Thanks to the poor logistics on their statistics system…. I’ve lost my Level One Seller Badge (which took me a year to earn in the first place).

So, if you need a service done – content writing, tarot reading (one question at a time mind you…), want some custom runes, or even perchance need to find felony relief programs or help with overcoming your felony – please, help a fellow felon out – and order a Gig from me.  Here’s a link to my Fiverr profile.

Help your girl get her rating back, and support your favorite felon blogger maybe. 🙂

Thanks for reading my rant today, and remember to keep pushing forward!

Love and Peace – Aza

Staying in a Positive Mindset

Hey Reader! In light of recent conversations, I thought it would be a good idea to bring up how important it is to maintain a positive mindset.

Sure, we’re in some tight spots because of our pasts, and we’re all facing different and very difficult situations, but we are – in fact – surviving, if not thriving.

One of the biggest parts of realizing that feeling or that sense of ‘Hey, things aren’t actually half bad!’, is your mindset.

You can be living in your car on food stamps or the food pantry and still be living on those noodles that you ‘cook’ in a cleaned out peanut butter jar and some hot water from the tea area of the closest gas station. I’ve been there too. Guess what, you still have some sort of shelter and some sort of food. It isn’t optimal, but it’s available.

Now, I know that sounds sort of rough (it definitely survive mode), but I grew up in a home where my mother was disabled with a neurological disease from the time she was 18, and she always reminded herself (and me) that things could always be worse. While she was learning to deal with her cane, she reminded herself that she could be using a walker. Once she eventually progressed to needing the walker, she reminded herself that she could be in a wheelchair. Now, her situation is one of those that only really get worse over time (she’s still going strong, in case you’re wondering – she’ll be 69 this fall and is still in her own home). In our cases, at least in the felony sense of them, things can only really get better. You know what I mean?

Over time, more options will become available to us when it comes to jobs and housing, especially when we finally recognize that we don’t want to keep adding charges to our records. You have to learn to be patient and resourceful, and using a positive mindset is one of the best ways to do that.

This is especially important during the extremely stressful time we often have during probation and parole periods. I know my own time with intense supervision wasn’t pleasant but after ten years, I realize that it was actually helpful.

I know it’s rough when you basically lose control over your life and have to change so much about yourself in a short period of time. I know it made me crazy angry to have to bend to another’s will – it’s sort of a natural response to intense control over your life, but we have to remember that the very fact that we are dealing with that supervision – is a giant clue shouting at us that we need to change our lifestyle in order to get anywhere in our life.

The people that we have (or have had) as our probation and parole officers are often there to help us, even if they might be on a power trip of some sort (I’ve met some that were like this, but it seems that the majority are actually nice people who are intent on guiding us to some sort of successful life after we’ve screwed up enough to end up in their office). And it’s important to remember that they have bad days too (you think customer service is a pain – try living a day in a PO’s life).

The important thing to remember is that we’re all human. Try to be understanding of the protocols they and you need to follow, those guidelines and requirements are typically there for a good reason, you simply need to focus on using this time (and their constant prodding) to improve yourself and learn about the resources they can provide you with to get you back on track.

That’s all for now guys, I’m so glad to have you and I hope it’s been helpful so far. Til next time, and take care to stay positive and rise above the rest!

-Aza

Timelines and Tips

In light of my graduation (still blows my mind that I’ve finished it after my conviction), there has been a lot of recent reflection on time and how it affects our convictions and our careers. I know that I will have to invest a lot of research into the companies that I will be applying to. Especially because I chose a human services pathway (for my focal career, I have lots of different interests though, so I’m also not limiting myself – a very important factor for getting by in life as a felon) and the industry really wants good examples for employees – which is difficult to prove when you have a felony background.

So, I’ve started to venture into the pool of knowledge and experiences of other like-minded individuals with similar circumstances. Much like you yourself are doing now, reading this post. Here’s a bit of what I’ve found so far:

First off, some employers are just always going to reject you. They have this policy or that policy or sometimes it happens to be some sort of personal bias based on a negative experience.
It isn’t your fault, and you shouldn’t let yourself base your worth off of their rejection, and you shouldn’t hate them for it either. They simply want to cover their behinds in the case of court situations (based on some sort of statistics that they’ve had created by their insurance agencies) or they’ve been taught to be this way in some shape or form at some point. But there are plenty of employers that are willing to take a chance on someone that is honest and upfront about their past, you just have to sift through the rest to find them.

If you need additional experience for your resume, consider volunteering in various organizations or even a local community garden. And then put it on your resume. It shows that you have interests in the community and that you’re taking steps in socially preferred situations. It also gives you more depth on your resume and if you stick with it for a while, you get serious brownie points with human resources people – trust me it’s helped me a ton.
Stability of some sort really makes them happy, at least from my experience. For instance, when approaching interviews with personal resumes (not the single application sheet), I’ve found that focusing on the jobs I held the longest has been more rewarding in terms of improved (over minimum wage) employment than listing more of the shorter jobs that I have had over the years.

I’m also considering putting together a few presentations that show the specific reasons why felons can be good (often, fantastic actually) employees to help advocate for local felons in my area. This is still in the works – as it’s a bit of a tough sell to get their attention as a newcomer to the field. Feel free to reach out if you have ideas though!

Obviously, not gaining any new charges or convictions is also helpful, as the longer that you stay out of trouble the more things you can qualify for both in jobs, certifications for jobs, college financial aid, and even housing assistance in some states/counties. For instance, certifications of good conduct can be gained rather quickly in the state of Illinois, check your state laws to see if your area offers this and what conditions have to be met to earn it. If I recall my research into it a couple years ago when I earned mine, I found that I could have done it within a year or so of my conviction, instead of nearly 8 years later.

However, I didn’t even know something like that existed until right before I applied for it in 2015 after stumbling upon it while searching for expungement information (super lame in this state, which is why I decided to start owning my background and find a way to make it work FOR me instead of against me). I’m telling you, research is THE really big thing here. You kind of need to research until it FEELS like your eyes are bleeding and your skull is going to explode because some of it is very wordy and can be difficult to understand because laws have their own language and lawyers can muddle it up (sometimes in your favor if you’ve really proven to be recovered from making your bad choices, turns out State Attorneys can actually be nice people!). It pays off though, especially if your local court system isn’t even aware of the possibility and you are able to show them that it exists and that you deserve it. (It just makes your week, let me tell you that!)

And on that note, I’ve realized how tired I am so I bid you farewell until next time my dear Reader. If you have questions or suggestions for posts, please comment or contact me. I’d love to share useful information that you really want, instead of using random ideas that I get in the shower that become long rambles. 😛 (And I had the audacity to complain about 800 word essays each week in college…HA – now I write 800 words for FUN – well… and sometimes money if I like the topic)

Keep clicking around to find more felon friendly information – I’ve got lots stashed around here including my book – The Guide to Life After a Felony. Please share – it’ll help me stay out of the streets!

Peace and love
Aza

 

Graduating College with a Felony!

Guess what, I’m now a felon that has a Bachelors of Science degree in Psychology!

It’s been a long five years (had to take a break after family losses for mental health), but I made it!

I am living proof that our pasts don’t have to stop us from becoming better people. What’s even crazier, is that the background you have can even help you depending on the career you choose to study for.

In my case, I wanted to apply my experiences as a felon in a program that will help other felons (and non-felons too!). Because I have managed to get my life back on track (messy as it might be, its what I have and what I LOVE), I want every felon to know that it isn’t the end of their normal life to have a conviction. You can move forward and you can be successful. You just have to want it, and be willing to figure out how to get it the right way!

I have a theft record, so I had to work around what I knew I couldn’t work in. I have had to avoid corporate retail positions, because it’s often a waste of my time and printed resumes (precious, expensive printer ink and paper) often because corporate or state policy simply doesn’t allow a felon with theft to work for them (state seems to be picky about lottery too, so no gas stations either for theft records around here). So, I had to find something that I COULD work in, that I actually LIKED.

I chose psychology partly because I love the intricacy of the human mind and how our emotions drive us to behave in different situations. I also love helping people with their problems and have been the go-to for my friends – both online and in real life – for advice and guidance.

Then I realized that with my background and my new expertise in psychology and life coaching, I could actually create my own coaching career built on my experiences. Plus I get to write about stuff that matters to me – it’s seriously a dream come true.

I also realized that there isn’t anything in my area that is directed to helping felons get back on their feet (the halfway houses around here don’t offer coaching, counseling, or any other actual support other than housing), and I recognized that there is a need for more support services for struggling individuals.

All in all, I wouldn’t change a thing that I’ve been through. My felony might have made me stumble, but it can’t keep me down in the dirt. If I can pick myself up, time and time again, holding my head high and continuing to move forward in life, I know you can too.

If you need guidance finding your passion and need someone to hold you accountable (it helps to have someone rooting for you and keeping you on task, it really does),  I’d love to help you. I offer books, workbooks, and one on one digital coaching. Find the links to the books in the sidebar to the right, or scroll up to the top to find a link to the exclusive print edition from Microcosm. I even created a couple of workbooks to help walk you through the process of getting back on track and these are available on Shopify for only $3 USD each. If you need one on one help, click on Hire Aza and take a look at what I offer. There’s something for everyone who is looking for a little guidance and I’ve made it as affordable as possible – so check it out and let’s support each other!

Love and peace,
Aza @aza_enigma (Twitter)

 

Writing Your Story

Sorry for the lack of posts guys, as usual, things are crazy on the home and business fronts. I’ve been hard at work researching and writing first drafts of my other writing projects (more information on these coming soon). And while writing is on my mind, I wanted to talk about how writing your story (how you became a felon) can help you put things into perspective. The insight that you might find through the practice of writing the story of your life might help you find your path to freedom again.

Shortly after my own incarceration, I found myself writing non-stop in my diary, talking about how I had got myself into the position I was currently in, how the people I thought were friends were just dragging me into unknown depths, and how insane my experience seemed to be in general.

I started to realize that it wasn’t just my friends that had beguiled me into the situation and that I had to take control of myself for myself. I had to start being accountable for my actions and lack of actions. This realization helped guide me to where I am now. I have raised a child to double digits (the little one isn’t so little these days), I have supported my family, and I have taken control of my life and I won’t let anything stop me from being successful. Felon or not, I am going to find or forge (create forcibly, not write bad checks, just FYI) my path to freedom and acceptance in society. And I know you can do it too!

Point is, writing it out can help you get outside of your head and might take a bit of the depression off your shoulders. It helped me learn more about myself and find out what I needed to change about myself – you never know until you authentically give it a shot.

Til next time,

Love and peace,
Aza @aza_enigma (Twitter)