What to do in corona-times met… Noëlle Sterk

In times of #socialdistancing, we’d like to introduce you to all those people at the wharf. We’ve asked them for their Monday motivation and how they’re getting through these unusual times. This week: Noëlle Sterk.

Noëlle Sterk is a familiar face at the NDSM and is often found in her yard gardens. She is a yoga teacher and lifestyle coach and designs yoga classes, workshops, in-depth trips and programs to help people find their natural balance.

Hi Noëlle, it’s so nice to talk to you! How did your fondness for the NDSM-wharf arise? 

Since my very first days in Amsterdam (now 12/13 years ago) I have been a fan of the NDSM. I was taken to Noorderlicht by boat by two nice boat-boys and fell in love with that beautiful illuminated dome! What a lovely atmosphere. Later the GeWoonboot came to be there, the starting point of many summer boat trips with my best friend Joan. And well, then Sjoerd Steenbeek put down a nice Pllek to which I felt connected from day one. I still give yoga classes there on Sunday morning, 10:30-12:00.

I love all the small, creative festivals and I’m glad that the big commercial dance parties on the shipyard have been cancelled for this summer. (Sorry for the people who make a lot of money off of it). I’d rather see some more greenery, cosiness and togetherness.

I’m sure you’ve collected a lot of memories here over all these years! Can you tell me about your yard garden?

Joan van De GeWoonboot sent me the link to the registration form for the yard gardens with the comment: ‘this is perfect for you’. And indeed, I signed up immediately and am so happy with my four bins. The season had long started so I kept it simple with edible flowers, pumpkins, zucchini, tomatoes and radishes. On the other side of the Houtmankade I also have the sidewalk full of bins. For me it is one short trip from the Pontsteiger to the NDSM and I can mess around in the soil there as well. I notice that it’s contagious; more and more local residents are putting plants outside.

It is really nice to see that others also get a taste for it! What have you been doing yourself to get through the last few months?

My recent survival has been relaxing, making music and playing outside. Precisely because everything came to a standstill, there was time for reflection. I’ve seen that around me a lot as well.

Sounds good! And what kind of music do you make? 

I start my morning with mantra music. I play harmonium and the chanting of mantras is so liberating. It sets a very fine ‘tone’ for the day. Sometimes I’m sitting in the Westerpark and people join me. Sometimes I do it at home and invite some other people. Now with corona it’s a bit more complicated, but I hope we can organise Kirtan evenings again soon. Kirtan is the mantra medicine for our time!

And is there a book you can recommend to everyone? 

I think ‘Be Love Now‘ by Ram Das is a wonderful book, and spreading Love is more important than ever now. As soon as the dark forces come to light, you can lose yourself in it or reach out to the light even more, as a counterbalance. If you are talking about a book that really has a deep spiritual value, I would recommend the ‘Bhagavad Gita’. I call it the Gandhi Bible. Together with a friend I organize bi-weekly Bhagavad Gita sessions Online. Then we check in via Zoom with about 15 participants to discuss the deep lessons and insights of the Gita. These are very nice sessions, about the deeper meaning of life and themes we all encounter on a daily basis.

En is er een boek dat je iedereen aanraadt? 

van Ram Das vind ik een prachtig boek, en het uitdragen van Liefde is nu belangrijker dan ooit. Zodra de duistere machten ook aan het licht komen, kun je je daar in verliezen of juist nog meer uitreiken naar het licht, als tegenwicht. Als je het hebt over een boek dat echt een diepe spirituele waarde heeft zou ik de Bhagavad Gita aan willen raden. Ik noem het de bijbel van Ghandi. Samen met een vriend organiseer ik twee-wekelijkse Bhagavad Gita sessies Online. Dan checken we in via Zoom met een 15-tal deelnemers om de diepe lessen en inzichten van de Gita te bespreken. Dat zijn erg fijne sessies, over de diepere betekenis van het leven en thema’s die we allemaal dagelijks tegenkomen.

Beautiful suggestions! From which work of art can you get inspiration or comfort?

I like the light art of Clifton Mahangoe very much.  He knows how to express nature and the light of life in a beautiful way. He shows how Love and Light are always a source of inspiration.

What have you missed the most these past few months?

Spontaneity! Dancing, being together, hugging each other. I was pretty sad to notice that people are almost scared of each other and you couldn’t touch anyone. I was also very sad that I wasn’t allowed to go to my dad’s anymore. He is very sick and may not have that long anymore. That can never be the intention, that people die in loneliness.

That’s very sad indeed, especially at a time like this when you want to be close to each other. That also makes you think. Have you come to a certain realisation?

I have come to the conclusion that I want to live more simple, do with less, less far, more green, more time, more life. And I would love it if more people would pursue this feeling. I think the Earth is going to love it. And so will we!

No doubt! What are your expectations of a time after corona?

I hope a lot of people see it as the time to turn old systems into something new. And that we all have a responsibility in that. To stop what doesn’t serve the big picture; to clean up the mess and create a new reality together. Which is based on truth and love, and not on fear and power.

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