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: go down to go up

To grow we must challenge ourselves.

saynotofoodwaste.grow.tree.up.down.sustainable.learn.wisdom.nature.2Take plants for instance, in order for them to reach more sunlight they must go deeper into the ground (the root goes down and the stem shoots up).

What about animals? The different species we have of same family of mammals is due to environmental challenges that each group adapted to. Even fruits and vegetables have different varieties.

Nature wouldn’t create options if one was enough to address all challenges and fit all needs.

As humans we too must adapt to challenges. This is not done by running away, it’s done by facing the problem, studying it fully and finding small solutions until we overcome our obstacles. Here are three TED talks that provide solutions to common challenges of life.

  1. Face your problem.

Many times we are afraid to make mistakes. This is because we don’t like accepting that we’re not perfect. Sometimes these thought processes lead us astray and not being able to control what comes our way scares us. Yet, if we avoid problems and lead comfortable lives we will never develop. Learning to accept mistakes, face fears and turn problems into lessons will help us grow upwards, just like plants.

2. Study the challenge. 

Once the problem is isolated we try to get rid of it as fast as possible. But like weeds that grow stronger roots, stomping out problems on the surface won’t take them away. Instead, we should look deeper and resolve them from there. For many of us, learning to cook and eat mindfully in our busy lives doesn’t leave us much time to address these issues. One physical symptom of this is weight gain. To address this many turn to extreme diets and then gain the weight right back, but they don’t learn to control their cravings.

3. Set your mind to look for solutions. 

To accomplish anything we must have the right attitude and really want it. Willpower can get us moving, but it is our passion and emotion that keeps us invested even in the face of challenges. These are the things that make life worthwhile, because we know that attaining the goal will be for our own benefit. Being invested in wanting to change means you’re more likely to do it. And even if things don’t go your way, you won’t give up easily because you will know that development requires trial and error. But one thing you can be sure of is: once you do find the path to change it will definitely be a sustainable and a long-lasting one.

In a life that keeps changing we must keep growing. But, before we can run we must walk, and sometimes before we can walk we must begin by crawling, either way – keep going forward. To see more inspiring videos on growth check out this playlist on becoming “A better you“.

After all, even the tall tree under the sky was once a small seed buried in soil.

Happy growing, friends!
– Hokuma

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!

Fasting for wisdom and appreciation

Happy Ramadan Friends!

This week I joined millions of Muslims, albeit for only 4 days, to fast (no food or drink) from sun up to sun down. While not being a religious person, I knew there were many benefits to reap from detoxing the body.

The human body is a machine that runs on food, rest and upkeep. Sometimes we forget to take care of it and suffer from the buildup of everyday wear and tear. These four days helped me tidy up the body, but also the mind. And all the clear thinking left me with new wisdom and appreciation for the small things that are overlooked or taken for granted.

Here are three small reasons why I’d recommend all of you to fast (not for religious purposes, but for personal ones).

1. Fasting makes you productive. you are overwhelmed, bored, stressed or simply wanting to take a break, food looks like a good distraction. Getting up to go to the kitchen, or introducing a new flavor to your life promises to make you happy. In reality, it just pushes the important things aside. When your life revolves around food, it declines in productivity. This week, when I wasn’t distracted by thoughts of food, I executed many tasks and activities I’ve been putting off. In a short time I became the living and breathing motto of Nike: “Just do it!”. This new change suited me well. I felt accomplished and satisfied, and will likely adopt it for good.

2. Rationing helps you appreciate each bite. you have something in abundance, you stop seeing it as something ‘special’. Restricting my food intake to the hours of dawn and dusk meant that I had a short time to indulge in good food. And prolonged times of fasting meant my stomach couldn’t accept large volumes of nutrition, so I could eat only the healthy and essential things. I filled my body with protein, vitamins and limited the sugar. The result is that each slow bite was delicious and fully appreciated by me.

3. Detox does wonders to your body. is good for you! It means that you have more energy to shift your body’s focus from digestion towards recovery and clean up. Giving your body time to breathe and take care of itself means you can start enjoying clear skin, clear mind and more positivity to open your eyes to the beauty scattered around you! Most importantly working on your willpower makes you more confident and secure in your abilities to accomplish even what seems like the most daunting of tasks.

Fasting is a blessing that should be enjoyed every now and then to realign your body and mind, and to put yourself back on the right track. After this holiday weekend I think I might go back to fasting for at least another week! Want to join?

If you’ve been fasting or tried it in the past, did you experience any of the positive effects listed above?

Happy holiday, friends!

Bite sized wisdom: Plant science

Dear Readers, you ever found yourself leaving things until the last minute? Moments when you overestimate the time you have and underestimate the time it takes you to do something.

In about a few minutes I’ll be leaving on a trip.

You might be wondering…why is this girl sitting writing this when she could be packing her last minute items and checking important documents. Well, I don’t have a valuable answer other than – I put this off until last minute.

And while this is possible to resolve thanks to new technology and inventions, in most cases in nature what you let slip from your hands rarely comes back. This is especially true of time and missed opportunities. Best example of opportunity is of course a seed that bears hidden fruits. Unfortunately, if you don’t plant the seed just in the right time with the right care nothing will grow of it.

Time is a special gift called life and we are the seeds of opportunity.

Lets sow them and start blooming!

Bite sized wisdom: The Garden Edition

Hello there!

Have you ever tried gardening? I haven’t, but my desire to turn a grey deck into a green paradise meant that I had to learn. With a few trips to a local Home Depot, I had several pots of plants adorning my balcony.

Thanks to a bit of love, lots of sunshine and few occasional rain showers, signs of green started showing. Small seeds burst open, new sprouts grew upwards crowning themselves with flowers, until crowns got heavier and bore fruit. Thanks to the variety of plants, I learned the struggle of each one and realized they all had a different path to follow.

The few weeks spent in the garden have taught me some wisdom and I’d like to share these life lessons with you. “We’re all wired differently.”

In the garden I had a variety of food: tomatoes, strawberries, mint, basil, and even lavender for nice aroma.
The first to blossom were the herbs and lavender, the fruits came last. Of them, the strawberry bloomed from different sides, the flowers transforming into sweet red fruits. The tomato bloomed and bore fruit in a bunch, but it took weeks before they ripened. We all have different paths to follow. For some the journey is long, but we’ll all get there eventually. “Take time, but don’t take too long.”

The first strawberry to appear on the plant was nice and large (not the store kind of large, but more of the organic type you’d expect the strawberry to be). For days it was basking in the sun, getting sweeter and more ripe. One day I had a feeling that it was time to delight in what the plant had to share. To keep the moment special I thought I’d wait to have some friends around. That evening I came home to find that a crow had gotten to the fruit first. It was disappointing, but that’s the truth. Things take time to mature, so give it time, but don’t take too long, or you’ll miss your chance.

3. “What blossoms withers, but the roots can bring it back.”’ve seen many flowers bloom and wither in my neighborhood. On my deck, that’s no exception. Flowers that bring color, sweetness and decorate a grey deck with life are all here for a short time. Once they’ve bloomed and bore fruit they wither away. It’s sad, but it’s the cycle of life. What’s important to remember though is that the roots of the plants are safely in the ground, and when the time comes, the flowers will bloom again. Same applies to love, friendships and everything else in life. Each has its own cycle, there are ups and downs, and even when something seems to be dying, if the bond is strong, it can withstand almost anything! Just because something seems to be ending doesn’t mean it will be gone forever.

Much love and happiness to you!

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,