From Financial Integrity
Alan Seid-I did it my way
- I was born in 1971
- I grew up bilingual-bicultural in Mexico City
- I live on 25 acres in the foothills of Washington State's North Cascades
When I was 18 I had a freakout experience that was simultaneously an “a-ha” experience. I had been in school since the age of 5, and realized that I was being groomed to become a “cubicle slave” -- a replaceable cog in the machine of an economic system that was destroying ecosystems and indigenous people worldwide. My inner panic and sense of anxiousness - what I’m calling my freakout moment - was soon replaced by a sense of resolute clarity and burning purpose. If the opposite of being hit by a ton of bricks is having a ton of bricks removed from on top of you, that is what this clarity felt like, combined with a sense of burning purpose. I was clear that I had more to contribute in life than 9-to-5-‘till-you-die, and I knew I wanted to get off the treadmill before I even got on it. After all, as the sayings go, “if you win the rat race you’re still a rat”, and “the one with the most toys still dies.” And I knew that that life was not for me.
I had already concluded at 16 or 17 that I wanted to dedicate my life to finding real solutions to big problems, and that preaching was not enough: I had to change my own life, and lead by example. My “a-ha”/freakout moment propelled my clarity of purpose to the next level, but what to do? Would I study with Tom Brown, Jr. and become a modern-day hunter-gatherer, hiding out in some National Forest? Would I find a sugar-mama to buy me an island in the South Pacific?
No; clearly escape was not the answer. But, how to participate and not get trapped?
Two years later, while living at Denison University’s Homestead -- a student-built residential option for a mere 12 students, complete with photovoltaic electricity, passive solar heating, and work-parties; a place the university hoped would just go away -- I read the classic article “Pogonomics” by Joe Dominguez (thank you, In Context magazine!). The tool I had been looking for just fell in my lap!
I ordered the audio course, and sat on it for a few months until the time was right. Then, in the Summer of 1992 at the ripe age of 21, while visiting my parents between junior and senior years in college, I did the audio course, twice. My fist listen was a full Saturday (“Mom, Dad: don’t bother me, I’m just sitting in the corner doing my thing”). My intention was to get the big picture with little attention to detail. Two months later, I listened again, this time focusing on the details of how exactly I was going to begin implementing the system.
Fast-forward 7 years, and I was volunteer staff in British Columbia with Jim Merkel’s Global Living Project. I had been working as a Spanish interpreter in King County Superior Court, and as a freelance translator at home, fully engaged in my “savings-spree” when Jim invited me to work with him.
At about the same time, our landlords told us they were selling the house, my job was not being so fun, and I had an 85K nest-egg producing a steady $480/month in income, only slightly below cross-over on my wall-chart. So I decided to quit my job, store my stuff, and take 6 months to a year off. My attitude was: “I’ll go back to part-time or full-time work later, if needed.”
Six months turned into a year, which turned into three, four, and then seven years! From 1998 to 2005 --from the ages of 27 to 34-- both my wife and I had 7 years of completely self-directed, intensive study and research. To that we added a visioning-and-manifesting land hunt that yielded an amazing property (purchased outright in 2002) for an unbelievably affordable price. In that 7 years I became certified as a trainer in Marshall Rosenberg’s process “Nonviolent Communication” (named such because he wanted to align himself with Gandhi’s movement of Nonviolence). We also became certified in Permaculture Design, an ecological design system for human households and settlement based on working with rather than against nature. I took facilitation classes, conflict-resolution courses, naturalist tracking courses, participated in sweat lodges and Vipassana meditation courses, attended and presented at sustainability conferences, the list goes on and on. We visited intentional communities and learning centers, tracking down the founders and asking them lots of questions, and finding a pattern to their answers in place after place.
That was my “full time job” for 7 years.
In 2004 we had our first child, and after emerging from our “Sabbatical” in 2005, we are still doing the steps -- now as a family.
Our goals still encompass Financial Intelligence, Integrity, and Independence. I’m working on a book about the tools I teach (including the FI Program), and building a web business. I get calls from people who want to pay me at east $100/hr (all part of Step 7). We host a nature school on our land that teaches children how to connect and interact with the natural world. And the testimonials and endorsements for my workshops blow me away, and come in at a rate faster than I can keep up with to post on my website.
So even though the journey turned out differently than what I thought at 21 (of course!) I think I’m a good example that there is not just one way to do the 9-Step Program.