[Entrepreneurs Impact 05] Journey Erika van der Mark

Childhood of Erika van der Mark

Born on the ‘Friendly Island’ of St. Maarten in 1984, Erika van der Mark’s life journey has been a colorful tapestry of cultural diversity, dance, resilience, and self-discovery. From being a dynamic and rebellious teenager; to facing the challenges of adapting to a new life in Suriname, Erika’s story takes an unexpected turn, leading her to a profound rebirth and the creation of Journey to Horizon—a platform dedicated to helping others embark on their transformative journeys.

Growing up in a family with roots in Colombia, Curacao, and St. Maarten, Erika was able to observe and learn about diversity. As the eldest child, her upbringing was also filled with responsibilities for her younger siblings. She was both warm and rebellious; and thrived in her dual nature.

Erika embraced her spontaneous energy through dance performances. This was initially as a hobby in Interscholastic competitions and later as a professional dancer, performing with the Calypso King of St. Maarten; King Beau Beau. At 17, Erika left for the Netherlands to pursue Hotel Management. Little did she know that her life would take another exciting turn when she met (at the age of 18), the now ‘father of her children’. A Surinamese guy pursuing Mechanical Engineering.

She enjoyed her college years in different ways. Erika continued her passion for dance, working for the well-known “Rock and Vibes” Music production company founded by Mr. Rude Fleming and their artist “Ziggy Recado”. It was the highlight of their college experience as their group performed throughout the Netherlands opening shows for different renowned artists.

After completing her studies, and being devoted to her relationship; there was a choice to be made between returning to St. Maarten or settling in Suriname. The choice, though not easy; was Suriname and it became her new home. Coming to Suriname marked a noticeable contrast to her experiences in St. Maarten & Holland. In some ways, there was a “social shock”. Her friendly and open nature sometimes clashed with the somewhat reserved behavior/lifestyle of particular groups within Surinamese society. For her, learning to adjust to societal expectations transformed her extroverted personality.

Erika’s career started off at N.V. Consolidated Industries Corporation, where she organically grew, holding at last, the position of Logistics Manager. When deciding to go for her second child, she chose to become a stay-at-home mom, dedicating more time to her “motherhood” journey. This transition, while initially fulfilling, eventually led to a disbalance, causing a feeling of emptiness, frustration, and a strained marriage, ultimately resulting in divorce.

The post-divorce period became a spiritual journey for Erika. Despite feeling alone, insecure, and vulnerable, she also experienced a beautiful awakening; realizing the importance of having a ‘TruthversationTM’ with herself. This experience instinctively paved the way for her in different ways. She discovered what self-fulfillment felt like and this led her to support others. Erika’s rebirth marked the beginning of Journey to Horizon.

Inspired by her experiences, Erika founded Journey to Horizon, which focuses on creating & contributing to various environments, fostering positive change. Throughout the years Erika has been a part of and carried out workshops, courses, panel discussions, and attended summits in Suriname and the Dutch Caribbean. In short, the metaphorical horizon represents the inner harmony and fulfillment awaiting those willing to embark on this transformative journey.

Erika van der Mark’s journey from the lively shores of St. Maarten to the serene horizons of self-discovery in Suriname is a testament to resilience, personal growth, and the power of embracing change. Through Journey to Horizon, Erika is not only sharing her story but empowering others to navigate their unique paths, fostering a community of authenticity, and promoting the journey towards finding the beauty within.

Her Impact

Journey to Horizon focuses on developing all types of relationships; particularly when clients come as couples or families. The program facilitates a deeper understanding among participants, teaching them how to listen, observe, and accept each other in ways that enhance togetherness, love, happiness, unity, and harmony.

In today’s society, the prevailing attitude often centers around self-interest. People prioritize personal gain leading to a decline in genuine human connections. As individuals become absorbed in their own needs; egos tend to take the front seat. Recognizing that fundamental human needs include love, connection, and acceptance, Journey to Horizon seeks to address the challenges posed by a society that tends to overlook these essentials.

The concept of ‘TruthversationTM’ is integral to the program’s philosophy. It emphasizes the importance of open and honest communication as a way of meeting the basic needs of individuals. Without such deep, truthful conversations, society risks neglecting these fundamental requirements, leading individuals to navigate experiences without clear understanding. This lack of clarity can result in individuals becoming hardened, deviating from their authentic selves, and further hindering the development of meaningful connections.

In essence, Journey to Horizon’s endeavors are to counteract the prevailing harmful societal trend; by promoting a deeper understanding of the fundamental human needs and nurturing authentic connections. Their approach is to strengthen relationships by developing better understanding and encouraging more Truthversations. Their “Rocky Road to Self-Fulfillment” program aims to guide individuals toward a more harmonious and fulfilling way of living.

Growth through experience

Discovering “self-love”, was a revelation for Erika, a realization that unfolded during her participation in a Vipassana Ten-Day Silent Meditation retreat. This unique retreat was designed to cultivate love and kindness towards oneself. Participants were instructed to sit, reflect, and direct feelings of kindness inward. However, Erika encountered challenges in this process, facing numerous restarts due to her struggle to genuinely feel love for herself. While intellectually acknowledging self-love, her heart remained a battleground where self-criticism prevailed.

The meditation became a transformative practice, unveiling the profound truth that self-love is not an effortless journey. For Erika, it was a continuous effort to stand by herself, especially during the most challenging moments. This experience taught her that authentic self-love requires dedicated practice, urging individuals to show up for themselves even when faced with difficulties.

Closing Remarks from Erika

Don’t let fear of the unknown cripple you in not making any move at all. Find the rebel in yourself to go against the grain and be OK with standing alone, if standing alone means that you stand in your integrity and authenticity. We need everyone to show up 100% for us to be able to connect genuinely, so we all have to do our part by breaking our cycles and bad habits.

Be OK with not being liked.
Be OK with people not agreeing.
Be OK with not fitting in someone else’s story, you have to create your own.

Entrepreneurs Impact

Entrepreneur’s Impact is the weekly go-to source for entrepreneurial impactful stories, insights, and inspiration powered by OneShot International. Whether you’re seeking expert advice, exploring business stories, or looking for a dose of inspiration to get started with your business idea or grow an established business, our blog is here to inform and engage. Join us every week as we delve into fascinating stories, lessons learned, and valuable tips with the entrepreneurs who are making a great impact. Get ready to embark on a journey of knowledge and discovery with us! In the weekly editions of the Entrepreneurs Impact, we will dive together into the story of Entrepreneurs and CEOs of businesses that embark on sustainable solutions for local and global problems. Weekly blogs will be published in the rubrics Entrepreneur Impact, Ideas & Opinions, and News & Media. 

Before we wrap up, we want to express our heartfelt gratitude to you, our incredible OneShot International community. Without your dedication to making the world a better place, our mission would remain just a dream. Stay tuned for our next Entrepreneur Story next Sunday, same time, same place, different story.  

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