Growing up with Crohn’s disease is sort of an act of complete surrender.

You don’t get to call the shots (or so it seems).
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When the disease hit me with the cold reality of death or ileostomy? Well, let’s just say things changed. Here’s what I’ve learned are the necessary skills to attain if you want to lead a “life that’s good” (which by the way, is one of my favorite songs).

1. Shine your heart.

Peel away all the extra layers of armor that you’ve got in place for “protection.” Be vulnerable. It’s the best thing for your soul. In your vulnerability, you’ll be able to connect with people in a way you never imagined.

2. Embrace the unknown.

Nothing is set in stone. We all think that we need to reach a point of certainty, of total comfort, but it’s an illusion. Living is risky. Loving is risky — really risky! Commit. Follow through. Deep joy comes from deep commitment, from deeply embracing the unknown.

3. Be present.

AKA, put your phone down. Tune out. Turn the Netflix off. Consider this a healthy (but love-filled) kick in the pants. Do your best to be present to your loved ones (and yourself). Focus on the here + now when you’re with other people.

4. Life is an adventure.

Life is going to give you a lot of different songs. Some are going to rock, some are going to hit your head with a rock, and others will be somewhere in between. Thinking that you can just turn the volume down and ignore the song doesn’t work. Instead of seeing a song (or situation) as good or bad, simply see it as an adventure.

5. Decide to be decisive.

Have you ever suffered from the “I don’t know?” AHH. They are the WORST. If you’re not clear on what you want from life, then don’t complain about what you’ve got in front of you.

In the summer of 2015, I made a strong intention to become a country singer/songwriter (having known just about 5 chords on the six string) and one year later, I professionally recorded my first single already out on iTunes. I mean. WHAT? I just decided to be a singer/songwriter, and I made it happen. Decide what you want. And then DO IT.

6. Be grateful.

I don’t let a day go by without being (seriously) grateful for the gift of being alive. This doesn’t mean that I’m climbing mountains or base jumping every day (far from it), but it does mean that I am in love with the simple miracle of being alive.

There ain’t no such thing as a perfect life, but a good life? Well, that’s something you can have faith in. Life doesn’t just happen, you have to create it. So if you don’t like what you see, what’s stopping you from creating a “life that’s good?”

Dana Marie playing guitar

“At the end of the day, Lord I pray, I have a life that’s good.”