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Finding Freedom (Pre-Release)

Hey Readers! I’ve got my first book on pre-release at Smashwords!

I’m excited and nervous, and all sorts of amped up about this!

The book, Finding Freedom, is a sort of guide book for felons on how to find their path to freedom again. It’s based largely on my own experiences and on a lot of research that I’ve done over the last decade or so while trying to forge my own path back to society.

I’ve also included basic outlines of laws from state to state in the United States, which will be most helpful to those who have stayed out of trouble for at least three to five years and have only a few convictions on their records.

And guess what! You guys get a private coupon code to use so you can pre-order the book for only $1.00 (USD) !

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Just find the book at your favorite ebook retailer, and when you’re in the checkout, enter the code above to get your copy for just one buck. It expires with the pre-order period, so act fast to get it at this great price!

I’ll be back soon with more updates!

Love and peace,

Aza

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Spiritual Experience Search

Hey Readers! I’ve been busy adding to my books, and there’s no update on the ticket situation yet, so I’ve been slacking on my posts again. I’m sorry, but I’m back now, and a ticket update is coming up very, very soon. I go in to talk to the court later this week, so keep your eyes peeled for that, because it will be either one of my best days, or one of my worst. We will just have to wait and see.

Now, as for today, I wanted to get you guys involved in my now current project (I just finished the roughest of drafts about my family’s World War I letters – more on that once I’m closer to publishing it), a book on spirituality and perspectives. I’m currently working on including a section that features experiences with spiritual, religious, and supernatural forms. This includes (but is not limited to): demons, angels, deities (gods), ghosts, orbs, shadow people, reincarnation recalls, successful spells (from ANY magic inclined system), and just about anything that you can think of that is associated with ANY religion or things that have really changed your spiritual perspective.

What do you get out of it? (I’m pretty sure you’re thinking that, if not, well, that’s awesome too) Well, there are actually going to be a couple options here, and you can pick both. Isn’t that pretty cool?

You can get a tiny bit of personal fame by allowing your given name (real one or an appropriate for a published book screen name – cuz I’m cool but professional like that) to be attached to your story either directly next to your story, or just in the references and sources area. It’s totally up to you, I get wanting anonymity too – just let me know what you’re going for and I’ll make it happen. Also, I will ensure that you get a free copy of the book once it is published! I will need a working email to be able to do this easily though, so see my email address as listed here in a bit and drop a note so I know where to send it when it’s ready.

In addition (who would have guessed it???) I will now share one of my own experiences here.

I was around five years old when this happened, and it’s probably the fourth scariest experience I’ve had in that house.

Strangely enough, it was early in the morning, with sunlight streaming through the upper windows into a shared bedroom that was on the second floor. The set of windows did not have any sort of roof or anything anywhere near them yet, that would come at a later time. And that’s important for reasons you’ll see in a moment.

My parents were already downstairs preparing breakfast and cleaning up whatever mess in the kitchen sink that had been left for the morning. I was alone upstairs, playing with toys and generally minding my own business. I always loved that early morning light in that room, it’s just so comforting in it’s own way. New day dawning and all  that. Now, for whatever reason, I look toward the wall that is opposite of those windows. Upon the wall there is the dark shadow of a man, wearing a tall hat. Not quite Abe Lincoln or anything, but noticeable enough.

Of course, I am suddenly confused, but don’t really feel any malice or meanness about it. I’m mostly just curious and wondering why it’s there. I look out the window, and while there is a tree outside near the road, it’s not in a position to cast a shadow that exact. (It certainly never appeared again, at least not for me) I look back toward the wall, even more confused than ever, and begin to look a bit more closely.

It is still there, and as I start the closer examination, I abruptly notice that where a human’s eyes would be, there are glowing red areas. Now, I finally feel scared, and that it might have an intent to harm me. So guess what… I did the most silly thing ever. I hid under my parents blanket for what seemed like forever, until my Pops had to come and rescue me.

Thankfully, that was the last of that particular thing. I’m not sure how I would react if it ever appeared again.

Alright, so the email we are using for this is azarathiasalternatives@zoho.com. Don’t be shy, I can’t wait to get to see and share your story! Til next time Readers, Goodnight! 🙂

Recent Creative Explorations

While I’ve been trying to focus on the writing for the books I’ve been working on, my hands have been itching to do something else for a while. I know it’s not my normal posts, but maybe it’ll inspire you to find your creative side. Studies have shown that being creative helps reduce stress, and if you’re a struggling felon like me – you’re probably pretty stressed out too (no rest for the wicked, even once we’re done with being wicked…)

Anyway, I have always indulged in the creative arts in one way or another, sketching with smudgy charcoal is my favorite (reminds me of those super creepy illustrations in the well known scary story series), but I have experimented with paints of all kinds, clay, jewelry, creative writing… and pretty much anything that is DIY.  Here, I’ll be sharing the photos of my recent work with watercolor and charcoal – if I can figure it out (yeah, still a noob to this blog stuff, apologies! lol)

Hey! I did it!  (pats self on back) As for my personal process with these, I’m mostly just playing around with the paints, experimenting with how they can blend together and then just doodling whatever random thing pops into my head (usually while I’m playing with the colors). I stick to simple stuff because I’ll drown myself in details trying to get more specific things perfect and lose the element of fun. I’ve been there too, and since I use this as a stress reliever, I’d rather not get fussy with it. If you for some reason love one of these, they are available on my Etsy page:  Aza’s Alternatives (Please let me know if this works correctly or not, so I can try to fix it if needed.) That wraps it up for now, and I have an errand, so take care til next time guys!

-Aza

Angry at the System?

Hey Readers! Today, I want to talk about one of those things that can seem to never go away after your conviction.

And for once, it’s not just the conviction itself.

It’s the anger.

I know that I recall being very angry throughout the charge and holding process, through all the court dates, and even after finishing my sentence.

Today, I’m not so angry. The only reason I’m not as angry anymore?

Well, for one, I took accountability for my actions in the charged crime. I figured out that, yes, I had indeed screwed up royally in society and that I did need to make changes in my mindset and my lifestyle to avoid making such a mistake again.

Secondly, I realized that the issues I was facing in employment and housing weren’t necessarily total barriers, they were simply obstacles that I had to overcome on my own merit. Each time I heard a ‘NO’ from an interviewing employer or the local housing authority/landlord, I used to think it was impossible to overcome.

But it is.

I’ve rented a couple different properties, and even owned my own property for a time. I’ve also held a range of jobs, from waitressing to advocate work, and from changing oil to filling vending machines.

Instead of viewing the issues you face as irreversible roadblocks, view them as road bumps, or re-directions toward what you’re truly meant for.

As an example, I will share one of my experiences, from just a few years ago.

I was 23 (five years into the conviction [two years after finishing my sentence]) and between homes, yet again. I had managed to finagle a room from a friend for a temporary place to crash with my boy, who was only three at the time. The whole single mom thing going on, you know. Between shifts at work and making sure my sitter was at the ready in case of a sudden change of plans, I found time to get applications for rental properties in.

The place I had in mind needed to be under $500 a month, ideally around $300, but I did have room in my budget to adjust (namely quitting smoking – again, and not doing the whole fast food thing anymore – no matter how easy it was to walk across the street from my job for my lunch break).

So, the first few places I tried for were in the local trailer parks. I figured they would be easier on the background check, as well as the monthly rental check.

I also threw in a couple house rental applications in, just for good measure and to expand the list of ‘possibles’. I didn’t think any of them would stick, but I wanted to take a chance, just in case.

I got a call from one of the trailer parks soon after, went to the interview and had a wonderful time meeting the landlord and looking at the trailers he had available. One of them was perfect, and I was amped about the chance to have it as my own. But, in the days following, when they would normally be getting back in touch and arranging your move in day, I never got a call.

Well, …. at least not a call from the trailer park.

I got one of the houses that I applied for within a week of applying for it!

It was just under the upper limit of my budget, but WOW, it was such a great little house and on such a huge property! My son was so much happier with finally having a real yard to play in, and I was happy about having neighbors that were more than ten feet away from me.

So, while I didn’t get what I wanted, I found what I needed at that time.  It might not have been permanent, but permanence isn’t a part of my life.

I know you might be in a rough place right now, but trust in yourself and your ability to find what you need. There will be a lot of ‘NO’s’ to deal with, but trust in the re-direction that it provides (well, actually, it sort of forces you to take a new path) and that you will find that ‘YES’ you’re wanting.

Keep going, stay strong, and above all ~ RISE ABOVE~

Love and Peace,

Aza

Our First Interview – Success Stories

Hey Readers! So, while I continue to put out more posts and constantly research, I’ve begun finding and meeting some awesome people.

And, guess what… They’re felons too, and have been able to find a pathway to overcome their personal struggles. And lots of us want to reach out to each other and help our brothers and sisters in the background struggle.

Here is my first interview with such an individual, let me introduce Lisa Forbes and her story:

  1. What was your first conviction, and what was the most influential factor in your life at that time?

I love this quote by Joyce Meyer:  “If you want to get over a problem, stop talking about it.  Your mind affects your mouth, and your mouth affects your mind.  It’s difficult to stop talking about a situation until you stop thinking about it.”

What is a matter of public record is a matter of public record.  But I don’t have to keep giving life to it by talking about it.  The world was created by words, and is maintained by words.

After 18 years, I have so re-defined myself that I have no interest in discussing the past.  I am, however, writing a memoir, and for two reasons.  The first is to put the past in perspective.  Secondly, I would love for all the details that it will include to give readers who have endured similar events the certainly that they are not alone, that other people can relate, and that they, too, can choose to not be permanently impacted by the past.

The most influential factor in my life at that time was having been traumatized sexually, religiously, and emotionally throughout my childhood and into adulthood.

 

  1. What was the catalyzing moment in your life that brought you to make positive changes and begin your current path?

When I realized that in my terrible marriage, I had recreated my childhood – right down to marrying a man who was the same age as my father.   Trauma had me stuck in a behavioral loop.  I repeatedly entered relationships with people who treated me as I had always been treated at home.  I had to accept the fact that some part of me needed to feel worthy of a better life.  I had to choose to believe that God loves me.  I had to stop punishing myself.  I had to stop feeling guilty because I had been declared guilty.  I had to forgive myself and move on.  Acceptance of that led me to understanding the impact of trauma, and the extent to which being in a traumatized state was preventing me from changing.  I want to emphasize that these realizations came about as a result of a lot of reading and studying and praying for help.  I was able to research these things and then reach out for help.  I realize that a lot of people aren’t in that position.  And that is the gap where I would like to stand – to do that for those people who aren’t able to do close that gap without a little help.

 

  1. What has or will define your success as a restored recruiter?

Restored recruiter is a term that no longer applies to me, and I need to update my social media accounts.  At one time I had a vision of working with restored citizens to help them enter the job market on the level at which they were actually qualified, rather than assuming that all they could get were low-paying, entry-level jobs.  Many restored citizens have taken every class and gotten every degree they could get while they were inside.  They are more educated than some people who have never been on the inside, and they are quite capable of doing something besides being grateful for a minimum-wage job.  Many restored citizens have street skills that are easily transferrable to the business world.  I envisioned focusing on highly skilled but under-employed restored citizens and connecting them to the workforce.  However, I realized that trauma often underlies the reasons why people can get jobs but not keep them, or get housing but not keep it.  Therefore, my focus has shifted to trauma resolution.  It is well known now that trauma can affect one’s beliefs about the future, leading to loss of hope, limited expectations about life, fear that life will end abruptly or early, or anticipation that normal life events won’t occur (e.g., access to education, ability to have a significant and committed relationship, good opportunities for work).  We see this in many large sectors of the population, but we don’t connect it to trauma.  So we do things like have job fairs and government programs.  Then we wonder why we keep seeing the same people in the same situations over and over again, many of them for years.  Without resolving the underlying trauma, ultimately their lives will not change.  Working with restored citizens to resolve their trauma is now my primary focus.

 

  1. Any hints or tips for the Readers?

 

It’s not popular, but my advice is to recognize that no permanent change comes by way of other people.  Permanent change starts on the inside and then becomes manifest outside.  If trauma is not acknowledged and resolved, the person is not healed and whole even if they happen to have a job and a place to live.

 

  1. Any additional information you’d like to share with us today?

My goal is to help people become whole.  I can share the specific techniques that I use to do that with anyone who is personally interested.  If anyone is interested, they should contact you and request further information regarding my specific work in this area.

 

And so concludes our first interview. Huge thanks to Lisa for sharing her story and offering a helping hand to those who desire it.

Please feel free to contact me at azarathias alternatives at zoho dot com (gotta make it harder on spammers, it’s working so far!) to learn more about how to contact Lisa for her services.

I hope you enjoyed it, and found some hope in your own future success!

Peace and Love

-Aza

Catching Up

Hello my glorious Readers!

After a couple weeks of non-stop work, I finally finagled a day off this week. I’ve picked up a couple extra jobs (surprisingly in the same business) and as the business is currently short-staffed… well, I’ve barely had time to even look at my poor, now – forlorn laptop.

I’m even about a week behind on the new edits for the book, ‘Finding Freedom’. I landed a small publishing deal with a U.S. based publishing company. It’s something totally new for me, but I can’t wait to reap the rewards of being able to reach more people with the helpful information I’ve compiled.

We are also waiting on responses from a couple of my new connections (thank you social media) so I can begin sharing more success stories of fellow felons. I’m so grateful for all of the support from my cohorts in #FelonsAreHumans (Facebook Group – check it out if you haven’t found it yet). When you do, give a shout-out to Jolene for creating the group that has been so helpful to so many people.

Everyone I’ve met recently has been so excited and helpful, and I love finding additional pathways for us to improve our lives after our convictions. For example, something new that I hope to apply to the lovely Felony Rehabilitation Program is Neuro-Linguistic Programming. It’s basically a mind-hack that can help push us to be our best selves. I still have a lot of research to do in this area though, but I’m very excited to have been introduced to this concept as a viable addition to the program. Big thanks to Leslie for that!

That’s all I have for you guys currently, but don’t forget to check out some of the older posts, and please check out my personal version of “Finding Freedom” – which is now FREE on Smashwords!!!

Much Love and Best Wishes!

Aza

 

 

 

Updates!

Hey Readers! Happy Labor Day!

As always, things are crazy busy for me! Just started an additional side job tending bar and waitressing at a local bar & grill (gotta save up for the holidays ya know!), and just got my first publishing contract (with Microcosm Publishing).

Microcosm has offered a non-exclusive publishing agreement, which will allow me to continue to publish Finding Freedom on any platform I choose. I encourage everyone to check their site out here, and to see what all they offer.

On another front, we have a couple interviews coming up for our Successful Felon Stories. We may define success differently, either as different people, or because we had to adapt to our post conviction lives, but I can’t wait to share these stories with you to help show that a happy life in society is possible and to help inspire to you find your own success!

Finally, we are slowly building up our nationwide network of after felony specialists, I hope to share some really great news with everyone on this aspect soon! We’re building towards free classes and programs that will help give our fellow felons a steady footing in society and improve our rate of success.

Enjoy your day, be safe, and above all…. RISE ABOVE!

Aza

 

 

Felons and Certifications

Hey Readers! I have a really neat interview with Lisa Forbes coming up, where she will talk about the factors that played into her conviction, and how she has turned her life around, and how she defines her success as a reformed recruiter.  I am quite excited to hear her story and learn from her experiences, how about you?

Now, while we wait for the interview, I wanted to let you guys know that there are affordable certifications that will help you improve your employability (apparently I’ve made a new word – according to Google spellcheck) after a conviction. Food service may not be a very high level income, but it can certainly help make ends meet when we  fall on rougher times. I know that life gets turned upside down now and again, and having these to rely on can mean keeping your rental versus ending up homeless (or homeless again – goodness knows I’ve been there myself).

These certificates are the Basset license (basically a responsible bar tender) and the Food Handler license.

I completed the Basset training in about 4 hours just yesterday evening through watching video after video, answering the practice questions, and then completing the final exam. I paid around 14 bucks for it, and now I can be hired at any bar in my state. Of course, not all states have a full requirement of a licensed server, but even if they don’t require it, it may be a good idea to invest in it, because it will show that you will go above and beyond the basic expectations and that you’ll be a responsible seller.

The Food Handler license will help you gain cooking and waitressing jobs too, and I’ll be taking this course soon as well – I’ll make an update when I have more information on the cost and the type of course that is offered online.

Neither course has mentioned performing any sort of background check, and I haven’t found a bar yet that runs a check for hiring purposes (maybe my area is a bit BFE though – let me know if your locale is different), so if you’re a people person and know how to defuse the situations that can come up in a bar, you might consider becoming a bartender.

The cash tips are often pretty decent – especially if you’re lucky and get the ever coveted weekend evening hours, and that’s money you can typically take home each night on top of the weekly paycheck for your hours. Tip based jobs are sort of awesome in that way, even if they are ‘lower income’.

That’s all for now guys, come back soon and find some inspiration in Lisa’s interview, and keep rising above!

Aza

Feeling Hopeless? (Spreading Success)

Hey Readers! It’s been a busy, crazy couple of weeks for me and mine. Late deep cleaning of the house, multiple new room-mates – including a beautiful doggy, and new installments at my day job. It’s been an adjustment, but we’re muddling through.

Speaking of adjustments, one thing that I recall from my early years of felon-hood – is that feeling of hopelessness. Well, hopelessness and a lot of anger, but we’ll focus on the sad and lost bit today.

I’m here today to let you know that even with a felony record, you can still have a good, normal life. I’ve been expanding my network recently, and I’ve met a few really awesome people that have overcome their conviction based obstacles. I’ve also met some people that were still very upset with the limitations they perceived as a felon. I want to help reduce the stress that comes with this ‘social brand’ ( the whole – we might as well have a giant red F on our shirts – kind of idea).

For instance, I joined Reddit recently and am participating in the /ExCons, /Felons, and /exConvicts subreddits. One recent post was entirely focused on the negative aspects of having a felony.

And it really felt like a punch to the gut…. and then… I realized, wait… I’ve DONE half the things on this ‘felons can’t do it’ list. And I posted in response to let the poster know what I had accomplished in spite of my felony background. I might not have done all the things on their list of frustrations, but I couldn’t just sit there and let this person make more people frustrated with their post.

Now, this is not to say that there are no limitations in our lives, especially early on after our conviction, but that only lasts for a short time. And honestly, it’s a good period for reflection and learning about yourself and how to hone in on your strengths so that you can dazzle employers and landlords with the fact that you’ve improved yourself.

So, the best way I’ve figured to help lift up some of you that might be feeling hopeless, is to give examples of those who have overcome the obstacles we felons face.

My best friend was convicted as a manufacturer 12 years ago, she now owns her own home, has three beautiful kids, and is in medical coding. She’s also been totally clean for a decade – huge kudos to her!

A friend was convicted of multiple felony fraud charges 4 years ago, he now makes 12 grand a month selling cars.

A relative has multiple assault charges, and has been able to become a well paid hygienist.

I’ve met numerous new acquaintances recently who have just finished their associates and bachelors degrees, who have just paid off their homes, and who have earned their rights to their children back as well.  On top of all this, I also just read about a felon that became a judge (public office is NOT off limits for most of us!).

Now, while our situations are all different, I have to say that it would seem we are NOT as hopeless and limited as we sometimes feel. I’m not saying the path to success for my friends, family, and new acquaintances was easy in any way.

What I am saying – is that success is possible – however you define it for yourself – IT CAN HAPPEN.

Turn away from hopelessness, find the light within yourself, and find the thing that fuels you to become better than your background.

That’s all for today guys, thank you so much for stopping by! Don’t forget to check out some older posts while you’re here, and feel free to comment or even send a message if you need some individualized guidance. I’m here to help and I love each and every one of you for being strong enough to find your path to freedom.

Peace and Love – Aza

What am I doing? (Find Out Here)

Happy Friday Readers!

It’s been a long week, but things have picked back up again after  a tiny rough spot. Over the week, I’ve been going nuts with the survey that I created which can be found here.

Some of you might be wondering just what the heck I am up to.

Well, I’m trying to create an after felony life coaching program. I know that I was crazy lost after my conviction. I felt that I was boxed up, stamped with a defunct label, and tucked into a forgotten corner of society.

Familiar sensation? I know, right? Super suck-tacular.

In my situation, I didn’t find out about relief or figure out how to get my life back on track until a considerable amount of time had passed and I was on the verge of giving up and letting go of what little progress I had made. The only thing that helped stop me from doing that was my son. Now, not all of us have that sort of situation, where we have a little one that needs our love and protection, but even without that sort of inspiration to keep going, we on our own as individuals are worth the immense amount of stress and struggle that we will have to endure to get on our feet and feel worthy again.

What I want to do is make sure that we don’t HAVE to feel alone or hopeless anymore. While the program would have some limitations, as relief is so varied between states and our situations are even more varied, I still feel that with guidance that many of us could push through our obstacles and make our lives a little bit more live-able. If we can adjust our mindsets toward growth, resilience, and determination – we can overcome just about anything that we face.

I’m also trying to address how society perceives us. If we focus on our positive aspects instead of our negative aspects, we can improve how society sees us and improve our chances for a better life. But we have to interact with society in positive ways to help that happen. For instance, I recently moved to a smaller town that is still close to where I was convicted. As I’ve socialized over that time with the residents of this area, I try to ensure that there are more positive interactions than negative. Once a few people got to know me better, I dropped the social bomb of having a record. Every single one of them were surprised, but none of them stopped interacting with me because I had created a positive association by being helpful and kind. The good character that I’ve built up over the years is helping improve how these people view some of the felons around here.

So far, I’ve written a basic guide book for those that prefer to do things on their own (like myself) (available here), and I’ve begun developing the one on one after felony coaching program that will help those that need more guidance. I can’t promise that it will be a fix all for everyone, but I can promise that my intentions are to help as many as I can and to inspire others to do the same.

That’s all for now guys, thanks for stopping by and I hope you rock your day and smash your goals!

Aza

Calling All Felons!

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

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

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

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

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