Everyone has a story. And within that story, there are detailed chapters with peaks and valleys, challenges and resolutions.
For most of my life, I have been a collector of other people’s stories. I love to learn more about what drives other people, how they face roadblocks they encounter, and what they hope to gain as they walk their own path through this world.
Today, I have the honor of sharing Amanda Heslinga’s story as part of my Makers Who Give Back series.
I introduced myself to her because I wanted to learn more about why she chooses to donate a portion of her profits to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America.
Through my email exchanges and interview with Amanda, her story reminded me that what things look like on the outside tell us nothing of what people are going through on the inside. We should also remember to lead with compassion for others and for ourselves when it comes to our own physical and mental health.
I hope that reading Amanda’s story will inspire those suffering from Crohn’s Disease to do their own “goods” work allowing them to find a daily groove that brings them joy and peace of mind.
Meet Amanda Heslinga
Sparkly Geodes Make People Happy
GGB: Why did you decide to work with geodes as a primary material for your jewelry?
AH: Since I was little I have been drawn to anything that sparkles. I think it runs in my family.
Half of my closet is made up of sequins and metallics. I rarely wear those items, but it brings me joy to see them hanging there.
When it comes to crystals, the geode was the ﬁrst to catch my eye. I feel as if I’m looking into a mini galaxy of multicolored sparkle. From the geode, I branched off into a wide variety of crystals and gemstones.
Make A Statement With Wearable Art
GGB: Which types of pieces do you enjoy creating most? Which do you find most difficult?
AH: I love creating statement pieces; something that makes you feel like you are wearing a one of a kind piece of art. Each one is different as the crystals will always have a slight change in hue and size.
I ﬁnd designing earrings to be the most challenging. Assembling it isn’t the issue, but coming up with the design always has me puzzled. Therefore you wont ﬁnd many earrings outside of studs in my shop, I usually only create them as custom orders.
A Small Business & Crohn’s Disease Go Hand In Hand
GGB: How does living with Crohn’s Disease impact your jewelry business?
AH: Having Crohn’s Disease is where ‘Rocks with Sass’ all began. I was going through my ﬁrst relapse, 3 years after my surgery and really didn’t feel up to going out and about.
After work and on the weekends I would relax and create. Months later, I decided to sell my jewelry as a way to fund my ﬁrst walk for the CCFA.
I was having so much fun creating, I kept my online business as a hobby while I designed for a major clothing retailer. Working in the corporate world, however, often comes with high stress levels and strict schedules.
After three years, I was burning out. My health was declining. I was down to 80 pounds, and struggling to be happy. At that point, I felt as if I didn’t have a choice. I needed to resign and spend the next year focusing on my well-being.
It has been 11 months since I left and I can truly say that I have never been happier. My body has healed and my business is thriving.
Being self-employed and having Crohn’s go hand in hand for me. I can now schedule my days around healthy meals, exercise, and extra rest when needed.
I ﬁnd it sad that I waited until my breaking point to make the decision to put myself ﬁrst, but everyone has their own path and I feel very blessed to be on the journey I am now.
Mindful Movement With Crohn’s Disease
GGB: What types of workouts have you found work best with your work schedule and living with Crohn’s Disease?
AH: Working out always sounded like torture to me, until I found yoga. I now take yoga classes 5 times a week. The mixture of mediation and movement was exactly what I was looking for.
In yoga you come to your mat with love and acceptance. You aren’t competing with the person next to you, but instead giving yourself exactly what your body needs in that moment- whether its rest or intensity.
Every week I feel myself getting stronger, and that is such an amazing feeling.
How To Support Someone Living With Crohn’s Disease
GGB: What are some simple things family and friends can do to support a small business owners who are living with Crohn’s Disease?
AH: Verbal support and encouragement mean the most to me. Knowing that my friends and family believe in me and are proud of how far I’ve come brings tears to my eyes. (I’m actually starting to cry now. Whew! OK.)
There are always going to be days when you don’t feel well and doubt starts to creep in and those are the days that you lean on your family and friends. The reminder that you are loved and amazing go such a long way.
The Organization That Empowers People Diagnosed With Crohn’s
GGB: Why support the Crohn’s And Colitis Foundation of America as your beneficiary organization as opposed to a different charity?
When I was ﬁrst diagnosed I was encouraged to talk to someone, but refused.
Looking back, I wish I would have had a mentor who could give me insight and encouragement. I’m hoping to join the program as a mentor in the coming months.
The Speed Round
As with all of my interviews, I like to do some form of a speed round. A series of simple questions that a person answers in a single sentence (or single word) so there is no over thinking or second guessing.
1. Which gemstone is your all-time favorite?
2. What mantra do you currently love?
3. What is your wish for those diagnosed with Crohn’s?
Fight for a life that supports your struggles.
Thank you, Amanda, for sharing your insights and experience.
If you want to connect with Amanda she can be found online here: