A Day in My Life…

Hey Again Readers!

I’ve been thinking that it might be time to share a bit more about myself. I have a hard time with that, but I’m working on it. This post is proof, and you can’t tell me otherwise. LOL

Anyway, I thought I’d start by sharing a day in my life.

Often, I’m up between 4:15 and 6 am every day. Sleeping in has become a thing I dream about, rather than do – mostly because my son trained me well when he was an infant – but also because the local farmers wait for no one when it comes to their breakfast…
No matter what time I drag my legs over the edge of my bed, I make sure to take my Thrive capsule with a chug of water. After trudging to the bathroom, phone in hand of course, I scroll and get the daily, boring hygienic stuff out of the way.

Once cleaned up and ready for public interaction, I make my way to the kitchen. Now, instead of coffee (which literally hates my guts), I make my morning Thrive shake. I use only half the full dose for this – as it both serves my need of helping me gain weight rather than lose it AND it saves me money (I don’t get my supplement for free yet – because I don’t like pushing products – even when they work for me).

Once I mix the half cup of ‘awesome’ powder into my cup of milk, I sit down at my desk and check over all of my projects. These projects range from the events at my work that I manage, my freelance sites (Fiverr and People Per Hour), my publishing sites (Smashwords, Amazon, and Microcosm), social media (Friendly Felon Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, and Reddit), and check on my marketing ideas for that week. If I’m feeling really froggy, I might do a post on here, or even add to one of the books in progress.

I spend between 15 minutes to 2 hours on this ‘first things first’ process. I call it ‘first things first’ because these things are dedicated to the work I really care about. I don’t mind my current payroll job, but it isn’t my true passion. I also have the most energy and focus in the morning (most of the time anyway) and I like to take advantage of that early burst of ‘Get It’ energy.

Then, depending on the day, I’m either off to work, or off to finish some sort errand for the house. Currently, I tend bar, serve food, and manage the front of house staff and assist with rental event details in a local bar and grill. It’s not a bad fit for me really, as bartenders often act as amatuer psychologists – my bachelor’s degree actually comes in handy for some of my regulars and has opened some wonderful interactions with customers. This helps both of us, as they find helpful advice and new information, and I’m reaching out and opening up to people about my past and changing perspectives about felons in person.

After work or errands, I like to hang out with my family. We homeschool our son, often using Time4Learning during the months that I’m earning enough, or Kahn Academy for the times that it’s just out of reach. He loves both programs, especially in combination because they each offer different aspects of education. He’s only ten and he’s already learning coding and basic animation, as well as his fundamental subjects. When he’s finished for the day, sometimes we’ll play games, or just relax and watch some comic related movies. We’re big comic geeks in my house – Harley Quinn, Thor, and the Turtles are all huge hits around here.

We love to cook together, and we like experimenting with food combinations. Last Thanksgiving, we made a Cordon Blue Stuffed Turkey Breast meal, so we could combine the things that we each wanted from the meal. My son’s favorite meal to help with is fried chicken. I think it’s only because he can get really messy with it – between the eggs, milk, and seasoned dry batter  – it’s a dream come true for him.

We have a good time, and make the best of what we have.

After the work, play, and relaxation, it’s time for bed. Often, I have the most ideas for blog posts, plot points in stories, and business schemes while I’m in that nearly asleep phase. I have yet to actually get around to writing more of those down (part of why I don’t post as often as I’d really like to), even though I have pens, pencils, and paper tucked away in just about every corner of the house. I think it’s mostly because I don’t want to risk waking myself up all the way again by reaching out and actually writing them down – because I like to keep my early schedule going and I know it can be rough to lose sleep the older I get.

Well, that’s a day in my life, and I hope you enjoy the peek into my world as it is right now. Who knows what the next ‘Day in My Life’ will bring! Keep Moving Forward, you’ll find your goals!

Love and Peace – 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

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

 

Still Seeking Interviews

Hello Readers!

I had been hoping to have some interviews to share here by now, but it would seem that everyone is just as crazy busy as I am.
Rest assured, these will come in over the next month or so as everyone finds the time to share the details of their stories.

While we wait patiently, I want to share with you something that has finally come to fruition for me recently.

Now, I know that I’ve already shared my personal version of the book, ‘Finding Freedom’ on Smashwords and Amazon (although I’m getting really irked with Amazon, so the book will be pulled from their shelves soon).
What I present now, is the fully professionally edited and easier to read version of the book, (made available through Microcosm Publishing) — (drumroll please…)

The Friendly Felon’s Guide to Life After a Felony – by Aza Enigma.

Click here to see it in all of its glory (and maybe order a few, to reward this awesome publisher for making the book even better!)

Alright, with that out of the way, I want some input on what to research next. Post a comment on the topic YOU want more information about, and I’ll do my best to find answers and share them here with everyone. Isn’t it about time you found the answers you need?

Can’t wait to see what everyone comes up with! See you next time!

Love and Peace,

Aza

Backgrounds and Jobs

Hey Reader! Back again are you? Awesome! Today, we’re going to talk about the to-do’s and NOT to-do’s when it comes to your background and finding a job. I’ve been perusing groups on Facebook recently again, and there’s a lot of talk about simply hiding the background. It’s easy enough to try to ignore that little box that asks about your background, but it really isn’t the best approach. Especially if you’re still in the area that you were convicted in, it is extremely easy for an employer to get wind of your conviction after they’ve hired someone who told them they were ‘clean’. The LAST thing you want to do is get caught up in a lie with a job. This sort of thing is recorded on your work record, along with refused/failed drug tests, and more. And once you’re on record lying about it, well no other employer is going to want to trust you because you’re still relying on bad habits.

Now, it’s not easy to talk about something we’d all rather forget about. I hate going into an interview simply because I know I have to bare my soul a bit to get anywhere and I’m not a sharing person. But, I’ve come to realize that one sometimes has to take steps that are not comfortable in order to get anywhere near one’s goals. So, I march my happy butt in there, plaster a smile on my face to get those happy hormones running through my system, and I start making my best first impression. Once I’ve made the good impression, talking about what I have made myself accomplish since my conviction, I go ahead and bring up that portion. I don’t wait for them to ask, it gives them the power and makes me feel like I’m a bug. So, instead, I bring it up, take the power for myself, and use the conviction to set off my achievements rather than allowing it to be framed in a poor light. Of course, it will help you if you have followed any recommendations by your PO to gain your GED at the least, and to have pushed yourself further than that when possible. Not all of us have the same story, and you’ll have to find a way to make your past a vital part of your path to success.

Of course, there are also some options available for those that have the time and determination, to avoid the entire background question LEGALLY and safely, where there won’t be more punishment and social stigma with future employers. Some states offer pardons and sealing of records, and you’ll have a number of hoops to jump through – but if you want it badly enough, it isn’t that difficult. You can do anything you put your mind to doing, don’t be afraid to push for what you really deserve. You are worthy of a job, you are worthy of respect, and you are worthy of FREEDOM from stigma and distrust. Be the change you want to be, be honest and open, and help change society’s mind about felons. We’re just humans that made mistakes, and we can overcome all the barriers life presents us.

If you need guidance getting your life on track for becoming a better person, need help researching your state laws and options, or are in need of life coaching that is focused on overcoming felonies, please find my Fiverr here, and take advantage of the super low prices I’m offering for these services.  https://www.fiverr.com/azarathia/provide-felony-rehabilitation-support

Thanks again for stopping by, see you next post!

Part Two Work Flexibility

Welcome back reader, here is Part Two of being Flexible with Work

Here are some more pointers that I have used successfully, and some more of my experiences in the workforce as a felon.

I also attempt to be very up front with companies even if they don’t run background checks. At every single interview, I will bring up the fact that I am a felon, what my conviction was, and what I’ve done since my conviction. Now, half the time, it bites me in the arse. I won’t lie about that either. A good portion of people that were ready to hire me on the spot, immediately withdrew their hand or waved me off impatiently as if I had wasted their time. (No consideration of the expenses I’d made toward fuel for travelling to the interview, my own time, and the often suffocating feeling of defeat they dealt me, mind you.) However, it’s also won over a number of hiring managers, and they’ve been willing to put their arse on the line for me. This technique, a disposition toward being open and honest, has by far given me the most job opportunities. And thanks to the steadily shifting job market, I have had repeated opportunities to test and re-test this method.

As for the jobs that I have held, they include the first post-conviction mystery job (ha, thought I was going to tell didn’t you?), waitressing, bar-tending, and then an intensive dive into the automotive industry. My most stable positions have been in the automotive industry by far, as I personally have the knack for it (all three, [yes, three] parents were aviators and both fathers were mechanics with histories of being mechanics in their heritage). I’ve also found that call centers and transcribing jobs are generally willing to work with felons (thanks to very strict rules within the call centers, so be prepared if that is a strong option for you).

I also highly recommend attempting to get your work history built up through temporary labor agencies. They are not the greatest jobs by far, but they will provide an income, and more importantly an avenue to better jobs to come. The more experience that you can get in a number of jobs, the more you can give to the next job that you really want. Some of the places will require a very intense dedication, as some places get clogged with substance abusers who will start a line at the door at 4 am (when the door doesn’t open until 6 am, just to get the jump on the day’s list of needed workers. And even if you do get in line early, you may not be asked to take a job for over a week, and still have to come into the agency each morning. Other labor agencies will add you to a larger compiled list of possible employees, and once they get to a job that you might be matched with, they will call you. This is a safer investment of time, but may take much longer to find work that works with you.

Now, since the last fluctuation in the automotive job market locally and my first ever lay-off from a job, I’ve been super busy finding a million different ways to free-lance and to be independent of the normal work schedule. Now, Craigslist is a fair option here as well to find and advertise any services you might want to offer, but beware of scammers! (I was hit by one myself, and ended up with a loss of nearly 3k. that I have to pay off)

Between Fiverr gigs (I offer homemade runes, writing research, and psychology based discussion/tutoring), UpWork jobs (typing is a must here as most of it is writing about various things), numerous independent services I offer locally (cleaning, light automotive maintenance, yardwork) , and a part-time driving and stocking job, I can get by on the bills while I further my education in psychology. And along with another special certificate that will be discussed soon (because it’s great for every felon to find their professional niche in their new life) I will be able to gain access to jobs that will pay at least 30 grand a year and can push it even higher depending on how much I put into my work.

I may not have made it to that ultimate tipping point where I know I will be successful, at least in providing for my family the way I want, but I know that I’m working on it. And I have the experiences and the dedication that will push me to that point. I know I won’t give up, and you shouldn’t either.

Learning to be Flexible about Work

Hello again dear Readers! I want to talk to you about being a felon and finding work. If I’ve learned anything over the past ten years of having a record tied to my name, it’s that being flexible about the kind of work I’m available for, is the best way to keep the income coming in.

With my conviction, I was pushed to gain my GED by a given date in the probation papers, and this helped fill in the first -good- part of my resume. In some cases, your own convictions may have included similar pushes to become an active member of society again, either while serving time or while getting probation or parole over with. If not, I suggest getting this generalized diploma as soon as you feel you can pass the test. There are tons of GED classes available in most areas, as well as numerous free sources online that you can use (like Kahn Academy) to get your basics in shape for the test.

After I got the GED out of the way, I marched around town (7 months pregnant at the time on top of it), and put in an application to nearly every business I happened across. Did I get any of the jobs? Absolutely not. My conviction was too recent, my name too recently brought up as dirt, and I was too far along for any employers to want to invest their money training me for a job I’d statistically either thieve from or leave from too soon. Did it stop me? Again – absolutely not.

It did take a while for me to finally find a job that would employ me, and that first job (I’ll leave you guessing here) after the conviction had actually left me with some majorly mixed emotions – even to this day- and helped push me into a state of mind where I was very uncomfortable with myself. Normally, this isn’t a great thing, but it allowed me to realize that in order to get my good (or even just neutralized) name back in the surrounding area, I’d have to find a way to do good things and prove that I wasn’t the person I had been before.

I started applying to the diners and cafes in the area, so that I could interact with people and let them get to know me as a person. Nothing like a customer service job in a small town to . My probation wasn’t quite up at the time, and the incident I had been involved in was still relatively known and discussed, so even a slight misstep was cause enough to get myself fired in these early days. The pay was low, and customers were fairly rude (to which I learned to respond with kindness), and the tips were unreliable. Once probation was up and I passed the age of 21, the option of working in bars opened up as well. This proved rather lucrative, as when the locals came and drank on my shift, they would get drunk and actually begin to give me time to talk to them and they tipped even more than the morning rushes at the diners. I even managed to make a couple friends. However, thanks to my refusal to move, there were still rumors flying about and job security was still based on how few of these rumors reached my employer’s ears.

This was still only about four years into my felon status, so things were still pretty raw when it came to jobs that actually ran background checks. Another thing I’ve learned is that you can’t win by lying to your (potential) employer. The background checks now are often not limited to a certain number of years as everything is becoming digital and can be retrieved for a low rate by nearly every company. The most recent application I made for a part-time independent contract inspection agent position proved this, as I found that even after ten years and one month past my conviction date, my record was readily available and staring me in the face in an (accusatory feeling) email. However, they have given me the chance to discuss the conviction and how I’ve proven that I’m not a naughty person any longer. Not all companies will do this, and even when they do, it’s likely something required by law and they’re just covering the bases to cover their arses. So, don’t expect a company to be welcoming, we have to fight for it in the right ways, and earn respect from the working community by going above and beyond.

 

Part Two Coming Soon – On being painfully honest, and the last six years of highly varied employment that I’ve found to be willing to work with felons.

Getting Bonded (Insured at Work)

Hey there Reader, thanks for coming back! We’re going to cover another topic today, one which can really help you sell yourself to the various employers that might be on the fence for hiring you.

It’s called the Federal Bonding Program, and it won’t cost you or your employer a single cent and it lasts for six whole months.

This particular pro-tip isn’t just for felons, it can be used by those who have substance abuse issues, those who are on various forms of welfare, those with poor credit (for those pesky jobs that evaluate every aspect of your personal life), those with little to no work history and those who were discharged from the military without the honorable discharge.

The great thing about this is how easy it is to get started. You can use this link (http://bonds4jobs.com/our-services/job-seekers) to get more information about how to get started or to grab information to take with you to your next interview.

In line with this program, I’ve also heard that many factory jobs receive tax incentives for hiring felons, so if you have a healthy enough body for that kind of work, you may have much better luck finding employment through one of your local factories.