Bite sized wisdom: finding nature’s balance

The word ‘balance’ can be used to describe many things, from a position of a body in its physical state, to a description of an ecosystem. While its application varies, lack of balance always means one thing – something isn’t harmonizing.

Currently, working in the development field I get a chance to interact with bright minds that have seen and experienced the realities happening in many parts of the world. As the main focus of my job is geared towards irrigation and agriculture, one concern that always arises is – use of water.

saynotofoodwaste.bitesizedwisdom.nature.balance.take.give.crop.seeds.grow.water.Climate change, development and improper use have significantly decreased or jeopardized our access to this resource. It’s felt most by farmers (and we don’t have to travel to the ends of the world for an example – take California).

Aside from improper use however, we are faced with a loss of information. Looking at the demographics of farmers we find that many are being replaced or bought out by big corporations. And since the bottom line for any company is profit, we quickly realize that farming is no longer about feeding and learning how nature interacts with us, but the focus shifts to producing more and learning to ‘domesticate nature’ to suit our needs.

Unfortunately, we all know that it is not us who control nature, but rather she controls us. In the fields of Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Nepal and other developing nations, farmers are being taught to value water and use it in moderation. Tactics such as, paying for improved water distribution and learning water crop cycles can ensure that water is used intelligently.

After all, crops also have varying needs for water intake. Factors such as soil conditions, climate and type of weather, all play a role in how much water needs to be applied. To master a ‘balance’, farmers, researchers, scientists and even consultants (like me), need to study how these factors influence each other and find a point where they all harmoniously meet.

The more we know about the world and the laws of nature the more we come to realize that finding a ‘balance’ does not mean putting things on a scale and hoping that they balance out. Instead, it’s about realizing that our world is like a jigsaw puzzle and in order to solve it we need to take our time, study each piece and fit it accordingly until we find the ‘balance’ when we see the big picture and come to realize that everything is interconnected.

I personally have come to accept ‘balance’ in my own life through the lens of the jigsaw puzzle. In my own schedule it means learning my natural state of energy and building my daily routine through what comes easy. This means meditation, yoga and journaling in the mornings when I first wake up, and connecting with friends in the evenings after work.

Of course, every morning is different, but this natural flow makes it easier for me to make time for things I love and find this illusive ‘balance’ in working and living.

Happy balancing, friends!

Bite sized wisdom: keep the garden growing

Dear Friends,

The heart of summer is already behind us and August is here, bringing us closer to a change in season and weather.

My garden, which started out small and green, has grown, bore fruit and is now withering away in the heat.

I am guilty of not giving it enough attention, or adapting quickly to the hot weather by increasing the portions of water I share with my green friends. But, everything in life is a lesson and the biggest trick is to learn from what comes our way.

Here are three life lessons my humble garden taught me in the past few days:

1. Lost fruits of love favorite plant in the garden was the strawberry bush. It always bore sweet red fruits for me to indulge in. When life became busy, the weather got hotter and my attention span shorter I forgot to water the plant more. Slowly the leaves turned brown and the red fruits, still waiting on the branches to be picked, simply dried up. The plant had no incentive to keep flowering as what it was offering was no longer appreciated, so it withered away. In life we have a lot of moments and sources of positivity that we take for granted. Then, one day that source decides not to supply us with any more gifts of love, but it is too late to turn back time and the only choice we have is to wait for another chance to treat it better. Next summer I plan to be wiser and more loving with my strawberry bush and the rest of the plants in the garden.

2.  Go towards opportunity the more fragile plants were lost in the heat of the summer, other plants took the opportunity to bask in the sun and grow stronger. My other lovely plant, which gives me round cherry tomatoes to snack on is still green and sharing its treasures with me. When looking at the brown hues of my once green garden, this red fruit is a sign of hope and potential and so I don’t get sad. Instead of worrying about the state of the garden at the moment, I’m focusing on the powerful message that this “insignificant” tomato is sending me – ‘everything’s gonna be alright’. And that’s the case with life, no matter how bad things may be for you now, if you simply focus your attention on the good and the possibility of tomorrow then you’ll be happier and will still get to enjoy red fruits, even if they’re of a different kind.

3. Start planning for tomorrow today thing I learned this summer is that weather and time move quickly. If we are not prepared for the upcoming seasons and the changes they bring we are unable to address the challenges and take care of what we want to protect. So in the next few weeks I will be cleaning out my garden and planning what to plant next for the cooler weather. Luckily the list is long and I’ve got a lot to pick from, including onions, squash, carrots and so much more. To enjoy all of them, though, I need to prepare my garden and my self today. After all, what you reap you sow, and it’s never too early to plan for things you’re excited about!

Nature inspires me, motivates me, feeds me and nourishes my soul. My little garden is just a tiny shadow of what the world around us holds and all the wisdom it can share with us. The trick is to simply slow down, listen and pay attention to the lessons.

I hope these bite sized wisdom posts are helping you as much as they are helping me.

Happy living to all!

The path to success is hilly

AT_-_Franconia_RidgeFor as long as I remember, I’ve always wanted to be a successful person. I imagined success to be the moment in my life where I had everything I wanted. A job that pays me good money from the brilliant ideas I think up, friends dispersed around the globe, and love that enriches me on a daily basis.

At 25, I’ve realized that ‘success’ is not a destination, it’s actually a very crooked and hilly path. It takes you up and down, through caves and steep ledges. Many times you curse it and wonder why you ever embarked on it. But when you stop the mind from seeing all the road ahead or nostalgically looking at the past, and move your sight to what’s around, you realize that being here is worth more than on the valley down below.

You understand that everyday is a challenge. Some of the challenges break you. They strain your muscles, leave you with fractured bones and a heavy mind. Other days are easier. They reveal you beautiful sights, fill you with warm happy feelings, and show you amazing individuals walking up the path. Some are walking slower, so you can catch up to them and energize them. Some are walking faster, and can share some tips to encourage you to keep on moving. And a rare few decide to walk right next to you, figuring that good company is what makes such hikes worthwhile.

5218485382_67445c75d6_zThe journey is difficult, not only because of the road. There are many factors involved in life’s hike. The weather, the load you are carrying, the food that serves as sustenance, and most importantly ‘your attitude’. The thoughts you have are by far the most revealing factor of whether you’ll be able to follow the path to success or put up camp, never seeing what’s ahead.

In the past months I’ve found that it’s difficult to run up the trail and reach the top quickly. I also found that doing so won’t actually give me much satisfaction. Another thing I’m paying more attention to is the load I pile on myself. I always knew there was a difference between working hard and working smart, but it took me a while to learn what that difference was.

The reason I decided to write a more personal post is because I know social entrepreneurs and young professionals who are working hard to make a difference. They are loaded with tasks, and many times don’t receive necessary recognition or compensation. To those who are working hard, thank you for all that you do! But please, don’t forget to take care of yourself. For without you, change won’t happen.

Success is not a destination, it is a path, a hike, a marathon, and whatever it is you can imagine doing for long-distance. In my next post I will outline 5 tips to help you stay energized and vitalized as you continue to fight for your beliefs, focus on your passion and tirelessly work to make this a better world.

Stay strong and determined, but don’t forget to take breaks.

With much love and appreciation,

Lost in Translation: How New Food Communicates With Body

Dear Friends,

Today we will focus on our food through a more technical and biological lens. Let’s put on our thinking caps and embark on this journey. you know, our body functions through the billions of cells that communicate between each other.  And our organs are made of cells that relay this exchange of information. The language of our cells is made of stimuli such as energy and other chemicals. But, in addition to our body’s ability to communicate between its own cells, new research shows that it can also communicate with plant cells! (Here I’m referring to fruits, vegetables and other foods derived from plants. But, this can also include meat, as many of today’s cows consume GMO corn.)

new study found that there is an inter-species communication between plants and mice cells. They found that exosomes, small vesicles that take part in the cell communication were able to send orders to mammal cells and impact their gene expression. These tiny particles known as the exosome-like nanoparticles (EPDENs) of edible plant cells helped decrease inflammation in the animal cells. how does this new study affect us humans? Well, now that we know that plant cells communicate with our body cells we see that their interaction is beyond just feeding and nourishing our system with vitamins to help develop our growth. We find that consuming certain plants changes the way our body cells behave. So, a patient who is suffering from internal inflammation can consume certain doses of turmeric to help reduce inflammation.  Which is more natural and healthy than drinking various pills or consuming certain medication.

This also implies that after thousands of years of communication, our cells might find it hard to communicate with new food products that are more synthetic and have an altered DNA due to the GMO practices. This means that as our bodies consume new plants not naturally found on our planet, this information can negatively affect how our cells behave and how their genes are expressed.

So not only are we what we eat, but we also become what we eat. Thus, it’s  worth paying attention to the types of food we consume and putting organic produce on our plates, as our bodies evolved to love them. Pretty shocking findings! Right?

Earth Hour, the entire world will come together and celebrate our planet!
The Earth Hour movement, which is supported by WWF, started in Sydney, Australia in 2007. Since then, more than 7,000 cities around the world joined in.

This event helps us realize that our planet has no boundaries, no religions, and no separations. It is a breathing ecosystem, and we are all a part of it.

What a wonderful message to remember!

To join this movement, all you have to do is turn off your lights at 8:30PM!
I’ll be sharing pictures of this on our Facebook/Twitter accounts.
So join in and tweet with us for #EarthHour day!

Much love!

Patience child fishing pole in hand. Glasses shading me from the dancing sun rays reflecting off the Caspian waters. By my side a wise and caring man. He is inhaling and exhaling the smoke of a cigarette. And in the meditative rhythm tells me that I have to be patient. That the fishes are smart and it is hard to catch them in perfect weather, when the water is clear and you can see up on the boardwalk. On this day, the wind also took a break from showcasing its mighty powers and didn’t appear for the rest of the day, leaving the water as clear as glass.

This was one of many beautiful summers I spent in Azerbaijan with my uncle. Spending a month by the sea, running on its shores, meeting with friends, and gazing off into the big unknown. Nature always had a calming effect on me, and these few precious hours are the beautiful parts of life that I will forever keep locked in my heart.

Nowadays, I live in a completely different environment. I see people rushing, sometimes even running on the way to work. Taking the metro during rush hour, I feel like a sardine, packed into carts, as new fishes are added and lost at each new stop. I see people addicted to coffee, the legal drug that gives you strength and energy to work 9, 10, and at times, 14 hour work days. I see people eating lunch at their desk because a 20 minute break is too much for them, they can’t afford to leave their work for that long.

And once the work is done, the same people flock to bars to finally enjoy some peace. Their favorite events are “happy hours” because you can buy more drinks, and feel the alcohol wash away the caffeine as the depressants ease your worried mind. They help temporarily, but tomorrow the process begins anew.

What a contrast. Black and white. Day and night. Hot and cold. But I feel that one is also Right, and the other is Wrong. I believe that we as a civilization have spent too much energy and time living against nature and its laws. We made our focus the attainment of materialistic things, like money and possessions. As if these things feed us, fill our life with happiness and meaning.

They don’t. I know. At one point of my life, I was that young and naive believer, thinking that if I was wealthy enough other important things in life, such as love, great friendships and joy will soon appear. They didn’t. know what filled me with joy? Hiking, being part of nature, helping my relatives in Qax collect hazelnuts during the autumn season, and helping redistribute food that would otherwise be thrown away to people in need. None of those activities pay me cash, they pay me in happiness – and that feeling doesn’t have a price.

Nature doesn’t rush. A seed takes time to grow. And before rising up to the heavens, it strengthens its roots. It basks in the sunlight of day, fills up on energy and then uses it wisely to sprout flowers. Nothing in nature grows quickly, it takes time. Bees toil away, flying from one such flower to another, before they start making honey. Honey that can last for years and cure so many illnesses!

So if nothing of meaning is given to us quickly. If nothing of meaning can be rushed through, what are all these people in the city rushing for? Life can fly past us if we don’t stop to realize that valuable things in life take time. We must be patient.

That summer day by the sea, after a few hours of fishing, I happily hauled away some catches. The small ones we fed to stray cats, and I got to pet these furry creatures in the process. And just like that, the cycle of happiness was complete.

My uncle was an amazing man, one that I loved with my whole heart. I will forever carry our precious moments with me. “Patience child”… his words stay true to this day.


Forever with love,


Happy NovruzThe seeds of my samani have sprouted and are bravely growing upwards. The other day a delicious shipment of traditional deserts arrived on my footsteps: pakhlava, shekerbura and shor gogal. The house was filled with the aroma of rice and we lit up some candles.

This fire aspect of the holiday takes root in the Zoroastrian religion. On the last Tuesday before Novruz you make a bonfire to jump over and light up candles in the house. Each candle represents your family member. Each individual makes a wish, and it is said that the candle which dies out last represents the wish that will come true. So picking your candle wisely was always a difficult challenge for me.

But, as I prepare to celebrate the coming of a new astronomical year, the reawakening of nature, I feel something awakening in me. My spirits are higher, my smile is wider and I feel like a budding flower that is ready to open up its arms and sing to the world: “HELLO! I’M HERE! ALIVE AND HAPPY! SO GLAD TO BE HERE!”

This is what I feel, and I am so sure that many positive things are waiting all of us. So as you come together to celebrate, rekindle friendships or make new ones, stay open, stay positive and something magical will happen. And if you really want some extra protection, then burn some uzarlik (rue), as it will provide you protection from evil eyes and negative energies.

Here’s to new beginnings, new adventures and new life!

Happy Novruz friends!!

Much love,

Save the plants!

plants-1Lately I have been thinking about how people are becoming more and more unaware of what nature is. We are used to living in the cities, which makes us totally disconnected from the rest of the world that surrounds us. In my opinion people become more human being “out there” than being closed in a concrete jungle, where they fight between each other for no particular reason. What we can also see is that people are much nicer in the nature. They smile to each other, want to help, respect their environment and… I realised that being “out there” in the nature and doing nothing, just living is more educational than doing tones of stuff in the city.

Being disconnected from the nature make us forget about many things that are fundamental for our life or sometimes surviving. One of these fundamental elements is food. Nowadays very few people know how to manage a garden. I would even risk to state that very few people know how to identify all the plants from which we gather our food. How does the pineapple grow, or a watermelon, or would you be able to differentia potatoes from beetroots?Actually most of food comes from plants. Of course, produce such as cheese; milk or meat par excellence comes directly or indirectly from animals. But if we start thinking what does a cow eat we again come back to plants. Sugar that is used in so many things that each one of us love so much, also is made from a plant – sugar cane or in colder places sugar beetroots are used. It means that without these plants we wouldn’t be able to eat cookies, cakes, ice cream nor drink juices.

The most mysterious and mesmerizing part of all this, is that if you don’t know the plants, you can walk the forest in search of food and never find anything to eat, even if all the nutritious food is right there in front of you. A great example of that is when in the community we walked past various plants that seemed like anything else you can find in the forest, and our native guides would tell us: This is ginger plant, this is yucca plant, this is the avocado plant, and here you have a cinnamon tree. If it weren’t for their deep knowledge in the natural world, I would have never have remembered where really does our food come from. I guess being exposed to supermarkets for all your life, really closes in your world, and disconnects you from the full food chain that all our ancestors were in tune with.

A really interesting fact about all these plants is that if you tear off a leaf from say a cinnamon tree, or a ginger root and chew it, the flavour of the actual fruit or vegetable suddenly comes alive in your mouth. I guess that could also be one way to survive in the forest, chew all the leafs that you come across to find the right one, but that seems like a very inefficient way to find food. The best process is to start re-learning all the essential skills our ancestors had, and get back in tune with the natural world. After all, without all these plants, forests, and fertile land….what would we have left to eat??

posted by Piotr Wielezynski & Hokuma Karimova