I just want to write about how it began. I imagine there are so many moments in life when a huge door is opening and we don’t even notice. We walk right by. In some ways my life had prepared me to listen. There had already been so many powerful moments that came because I listened. I had listened to the voice that said, “I want to live” when I was almost 31 and dying from drugs and alcohol. That time I had to be almost dead in order to hear, and the voice was close to a scream. As time went on there were other shouts and whispers along the way.

I got used to following because I found out that no matter how scared I was, no matter how impossible everything seemed, when I listened and followed something answered back. It was like I was in conversation with all of life, and when I followed that voice, life smiled down upon me in ways large and small. It didn’t always happen immediately, but it happened with such consistency that I came to know that risking everything to follow that voice was always the thing to do.

Over the years I learned that fear was my friend. It was a sign I was moving towards power. And so I took it for what it was, not a warning to turn around or go back, but a strong message to move ahead.

The thing was, contrary to how everything appeared, when I listened, doors that seemed impossible to budge just fell open, and in ways that I would never have dreamed of. I remember leaving my community in New York and thinking, “I will never be able to teach overseas again, I have let go of my connections.” Soon after I got a call from someone I didn’t know who invited me to come teach. And then another.

At this point I started to really understand the nature of the conversation I was having with life. It was something like this – “If you do everything I ask of you, no matter how afraid it makes you, I will help you have a life beyond your wildest dreams.” I understood that my vision for my life was important, but that this relationship to what life was asking of me was taking me places my vision couldn’t begin to comprehend or imagine. Then it got exciting.

It’s like life, all of life, is a friend, and this friendship invites all of my courage and all of my faith to be part of our connection. And this friend says- “Tell me your dreams.” And this friend says, “Take every step that I show you needs to be taken and then let me show you where you are going. It is going to be bigger, more exciting, more meaningful than you ever conceived. It is going to shake you and stretch you and challenge you in ways that scare the shit out of you. But you know about that, fear is nothing to be feared, on the other side lies more doors, more adventures, more of who and what you are truly meant to be.”

I was in New York; I had been living there for 24 years. I had a good life, a big practice, enough money, friends, comfort. Something started happening. I would give a workshop and I would walk in the room and a few minutes later the entire room would be sobbing or screaming, opening, all at the same time. I remember asking two of my assistants, “please tell me what you see is happening” I KNEW. I knew that this was a door; I knew that I needed to pay attention. I heard that voice- “pay attention, pay attention, this is important.”

Strange to look back now, seven years later. Strange to remember that what I changed my entire life for was an experience that was happening in workshops that I didn’t understand but knew to follow. Strange to remember how long I spent in the not knowing what was going on and how impossible it felt to articulate. But by that time in my life I knew. I was familiar with the signs that told me to follow. I was familiar with the fear I needed to face. I was familiar with trusting life to show me the way.

I let go, I let go of New York. I let go of my life, I let go of the way I knew to work. I let go of feeling safe for a very long time. I came to Los Angeles, I started a school. I let it be wild and I fought for my vision. I accepted the help that showed up along the way. And I spent a very very long time in the not knowing. This work, this Radical Aliveness was like a mistress. She even took me from my husband for a while. But she also brought me back.

I have spent 7 years listening to her. I have spent 7 years opening to her gifts and her power. I have stood with her in front of the world and taken hits. I have made huge mistakes. I have been humiliated and on my knees not knowing where she was going. I have danced and felt overtaken with joy. I have been thrilled by who she attracts to her. I have seen even more doors open. I have felt my profound human limitations create problems all around me. I have had to look at myself, naked and flawed. I have struggled to understand my power. I have been blessed and felt cursed. But every day has been a wonder.

This is how I want to live. Listening to the voice that keeps calling me forth. “Listen to me, you came here to do something, I will show you the way, I will take you there, I will help you become, I will help you learn, I will help you grow, I will help you bring your gifts.”

I see myself opening to life, more and more and more. I see myself serving life. The life I was asked to live. That is how it feels. I am living the life I was asked to live. Not by my parents, or my culture or even my friends, but the life that LIFE wants me to have. And if I live that life, no matter how large or small, then I will die empty handed, having given everything I came to give.

It makes me smile to imagine that.

-Ann Bradney