All posts by anthonyjackson

An Update From Ant (that British guy who worked on reception)

Hello everyone,

I promised Victor I would write updates on my move to Southern California so you could all know how I was doing… and I’ve been neglectful. Part of the reason was that I did not have a whole lot to report but now I do, so here goes…

After moving down to Pomona at the end of May I quickly high-tailed it over to England to spend five weeks with my family and friends. I was welcomed by an unprecedented period of wonderful weather which meant I got to eat plenty of meals with family outside in the sunshine. It only rained twice while I was over there! I spent a lot of the time relaxing on the couch and watching the World Cup. It was great to see Africa host its first tournament but we all know England didn’t beat the USA and got knocked out by the Germans… so we’ll move on.

My family have recently moved from the city of Leeds to a small village not so conveniently located in the middle of nowhere; somewhere between Leeds and York. It meant I was subject to my first bout of hay fever since I was about seven as my body adjusted to the country air. Fortunately that only took a few days but for those of you who suffer more extreme symptoms, here’s a country tip… local honey. My mum, a chronic sufferer, was told to eat local honey every day and sure enough, her symptoms disappeared and she stopped taking allergy pills. It’s all something to do with the bees and local pollen and your bod building up a resistance through the honey. I thought that was kind of cool…

When I returned to California I set about finding employment while my wife got on with Medical School (she’s kicking ass, by the way) and it was a frustrating and drawn out experience. I quickly discovered most of Hollywood did not care about my experience working in the British film industry and what’s more, it turns out there are like millions of people also wanting to work in Film and TV!

However, I persevered. I started doing an internship for a small production company (working for free), commuting into L.A. two days a week and began looking for a part-time job to pay the bills. The thing is, Pomona is like a giant strip mall (most of Southern California is) and I was thrown off by the lack of cool locally owned-businesses. Also, it turns out there are like millions of people also wanting to make money. Needless to say, I missed Santa Cruz and NOURISH more than ever.

I struggled along, filled out countless applications, shook a lot of strangers hands and waited for the phone to ring… and for a long time it didn’t.

Then, at the end of last week, things started happening. I got calls. I got job offers. Olive Garden offered me a job as a server, which I took, and I am now completing the training program (I spent the day tasting appetizers and learning about wine!) Even better, the internship has been turned into a job. I am now the Associate Producer on Hollywood clip show that promises to be very wacky. It’s a pilot, so things are very much in progress, but it’s a start and even if it doesn’t get picked up I can tell people I was once a Hollywood producer.

So there we go. That’s pretty much it. My wife had a few days off and I actually got to the beach and hear the ocean again last weekend. It isn’t Santa Cruz, but Southern California ain’t so bad.

Ant

Goodbye and Farewell…

This week is sadly my last at NOURISH. After working here for a year, it is now time to leave. I  will be moving down to Pomona, in Southern California, where my wife will start med school at Western University and I will chase my dream of working in the film industry (so if anyone has any contacts down there… I’m pretty sure Victor and Jocelyn will give me a good reference!)

I will take a lot away from my time at NOURISH. It is here that I enjoyed my first massage, learned a tonne about nutrition and the body, had the pleasure of meeting a plethora of wise and wonderful people, discovered a love for hummus, and received my first American paycheck!

I would like to thank Victor and Jocelyn for continually providing the flexibility and confidence that has allowed me to learn new skills and make the most of my time in Santa Cruz. Since walking through the door last May, I have felt very well taken care of and appreciated… they even let me wear my hat at work!

I will miss all the staff, everyone of you has made me smile in some way or other, and especially all the other receptionists who have been a great group of ladies to work with.

Finally, I msut say thank you to the lovely NOURISH clients and members.  In England and in the US I have worked several jobs, many of which have involved customer service, and I can honestly say that the clients at NOURISH have easily been the most pleasant and easy going. I think this is reflective of the atmosphere and ethos the center cultivates: NOURISH is a space of respect, warmth and commitment, and it has made for a great place to spend the larger part of my days and nights.

I wish you all a wonderful Santa Cruz summer, I will certainly be thinking of  Las Palmas Chile Verde burritos and walks on West Cliff, and I hope you have long and happy lives!

Ant

Everyone needs to watch: The Cove

After watching The Cove I was immediately compelled to do something. To get the word out. It’s that good! So here’s my attempt to help out…

Animal rights are not usually something I spend a lot of time on. It’s not that I don’t think we should treat animals respectfully or that that animal rights campaigns are not a worthy cause; it’s just that I think  if I am going to spend my energy, time or money on an injustice, I would prefer for it to be one that affects humans. However, the sensitive and compelling story this film tells about the plight of the dolphins in Taiji, Japan has certainly made me reconsider this stand point.

I love dolphins, whales, mammals of the sea. It all started after my first trip to SeaWorld when I was 11. It was amazing to see these wonderful animals and humans play together so happily. How wrong that sounds now, after watching The Cove; a film that explicitly explains how dolphins are not happy in captivity. In fact they are so stressed out that the trainers feed them antibiotics with their food to stop them getting ulcers.

This is what The Cove does so expertly; it seeks to peel back the glossy veneer of the smiling dolphin, doing tricks and flips, and reveal the true horrors of a conscience being that is exploited and trapped. It does so through the protagonist, Ric O’Barry; a man that spent 10 years building up the dolphin performance industry on the television series, Flipper, only to realize it was all a grave mistake. He has spent the last 35 years trying to undo this wrong.

Ric O’Barry calls on the documentary film-makers to bring to light the shocking and senseless slaughter of dolphins the in the small side town of Taiji. They are killing 23,000 dolphins a year. Yet this task is one that is clothed in danger as the town’s police, fishermen and mayor seek to cover it up. What follows is an intensely entertaining, yet sad, journey of Ric O’Barry and the documentary team’s efforts to capture evidence to show the world. Along the way they highlight the various reasons why the dolphin slaughter is not only pointless and cruel, but also how it fits into a larger conspiracy of government secrecy.

I could continue to tell you all the facts and shocking truths that this films brings to light but I think that it is important that you discover it for yourself. One thing that did stand out, which perhaps makes this injustice all the more shocking, is that there is a strong case to say that dolphins are self-aware. We already know they are the second-most intelligent mammal on the plant, but this documentary really makes you think about these creatures as more than just animals, but as equals.

Anthony

Health Care Reforms: An Englishman’s Perspective

After months of debate and controversy, President Obama’s landmark Health Reforms have finally passed. I thought  it might be interesting to give you my take on the whole thing, being a foreigner in this part of the world, and in the process hopefully encourage a discussion in the NOURISH community.

Coming from England, I have grown up with the safety net of a national health service (NHS) and fortunately I have never had to directly pay for health care (although I have paid my fair share of National Insurance taxes).

Having lived in California for over a year now, without health insurance, I have been monitoring the development of the health reforms pretty closely. When they were finally signed off and phrases like “landmark deal” and “new day” were thrown around I found it quite amusing… because when you compare the reforms to what has been going on at NOURISH for the last year, they suddenly do not seem so revolutionary.

In a roundabout way, the reforms will, hopefully, make medical care more affordable, and easier to access, for millions more people. While this is certainly a cause for celebration, NOURISH has been doing this since they opened! It is one of Victor and Jocelyn’s core beliefs… that they will make services affordable, because no one should have to choose between their health and their finances.

In lobbying for the reforms, Obama and the White House administration asked us to support them in their commitment to the nation’s health and wellness by getting behind the bill. The fact that the bill will force everyone to sign up for medical insurance, or face a hefty fine, could also be viewed as a commitment to the health and well being of the American people… even if it is forced one. Once again, commitment to clients health has been a cornerstone of NOURISH’s core values since they opened. Check out the website and  you will find a mission statement that states NOURISH will always seek to encourage “students, clients, and customers to join us in our commitment to their health and wellness.”

However, the reforms differ greatly to NOURISH’s approach to health and wellness when it comes the compromises made to get them to the people. Obviously NOURISH and the federal government operate on very different levels, but I cannot but help feel that the repeated concessions Obama and Co. had to make to finally get the bill passed has, for now, tainted the sense of accomplishment.

While to some extent the notion that ‘it is better to have something than nothing at all’ rings true, I know that NOURISH would never accept such terms. While compromises on logistical, administrative or material elements are often considered, they would never compromise the health and wellness elements of the center. This is evident in things like the time Victor puts into organizing his classes, the attention the massage therapists give to each client so that they are not just relaxing them but also healing them, and the notes Jocelyn takes in every consultation so that nothing is overlooked and everything is available for consideration.

I suppose ultimately, while the reforms are not particularly innovative, we have to hope that they represent a first step forward. So the cliche goes, Rome was not built in a day, and similarly America’s health concerns cannot be solved with one new bill… they are too deeply ingrained. But the positive change and momentum this bill brings will hopefully encourage more people and officials to think like NOURISH and make health and wellness and even bigger priority.

At the risk of wedging myself into the middle of the great debate over whether a US national health care service would be un-America (whatever that means), I will say, for it’s worth, that while the English  NHS is far from perfect, it is absolutely worth it! I do not think that a government ensuring that it’s people are safe and healthy crosses any privacy lines. It is a necessary intervention. What’s more, for those people in England who do not want to use the NHS, and are prepared to pay for a premium service, there is also the option of private health care. I see no reason why you could not operate the same system here.

Anthony

***

Now, NOURISH member, Susan Stuart, who has a masters in Public Health, has been kind enough to continue the discussion and, for those of you who are still as confused as me about what it all means, provide a summary of the reforms:

“Although I have personally worked for the single payer bill in California, I am happy that congress is about to pass the senate health reform bill. President Obama has called it a middle of the road bill, which it is, but it has many good things in it. Insurance companies will not be able refuse coverage for pre-existing conditions or drop coverage. Young people will be able to stay on their parents insurance until age 26. Small businesses will get tax credits for covering workers and will be able to purchase more reasonable plans through insurance exchanges or pools. Medicare prescription coverage will be improved. More money will be put into prevention and into the Medicaid program. It will provide grants for small employers that establish wellness programs. It will also begin to lower health care costs, which is absolutely necessary given that health care is something like 16% of our GDP.

I’m hopeful that this is a signal that American society is beginning to believe that health care is a right; because I’m certain that a more egalitarian society is a healthier society for everyone. I recommend that people read the new book, “The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger” by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, British social epidemiologists.

I’ll end with a quote from MLK: “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.”

NOURISH’s First Friday Art Tour

NOURISH's First Friday Art our flyer You have probably noticed the recently erected art hanging up around the studio. It is the work of NOURISH member, Hilary Scardino, and is featured as part of NOURISH’s participation in the First Friday Art Tour in Santa Cruz.

For those of you not familiar with the Art Tour, it is a fantastic local event held on the first Friday of each month. Various businesses and organizations in and around downtown Santa Cruz display art by local artists and hold receptions. Locals and visitors are then encouraged to walk around Santa Cruz ,taking in the art and generally having a fun old time.

Here is what some one lovely lady said about the art tour in a local paper recently:

What an amazing experience I had last Friday night in downtown Santa Cruz. I’ve been a critic of downtown in letters to this paper and the iffy element that is effecting a change to the overall ambiance of the downtown we have known and loved. This past Friday, the First Friday Art Tour, transported, elevated Santa Cruz to urban magic, the likes of which one usually only experiences in San Francisco or the Chelsea neighborhood of New York City.

Not wanting to miss out on such a positive and inspiring movement, NOURISH participated in First Friday for the first time on Friday, March 5th. It was huge success with the studio attracting many visitors to appreciate Hilary’s brilliant art and take in the NOURISH ambiance. There was fizzy fruit wine, a delectable platter kindly donated by our friends over at Asana Tea House (they really rock and there food is awesome) and of course, lively liberal discussion.

We would like to thank Hilary for sharing her truly unique work with us. Having received a number of compliments about what her art brings to the studio space, in addition to enjoying supporting and celebrating local artists, NOURISH will certainly be participating in First Friday again.

Unfortunately we will be skipping April – as we will be focusing on the exciting task of celebrating our 1 year anniversary with our friends, family, members and clients on Friday, April 2nd – but we do look forward to bringing in some new art in May and participating in this great event again. We hope to see lots of our members and clients there and if anyone in the NOURISH community is interested in collaborating with us for First Friday then we would love to here from you! Contact us at info@nourishsantacruz.com.

Anthony

A New Year Means New Food

consultationSo it’s not the most original New year’s resolution… but in 2010 I told myself I would eat healthier. I generally don’t have a terrible diet. Compared to some of my acquaintances, who live on a staple of Burger King and Taco Bell, I am positively zen. However, I do have weaknesses that bring me down. Weaknesses like bread – I could easily eat a loaf a day – and white rice and Miller HighLife (it’s the champagne of beers) and British tea with milk and sugar and, well, anything that tastes remotely sweet and candy-like. It was with these weaknesses in mind, and a desire to improve my diet, that I went to see Jocelyn.

Slightly nervous, although everyone I spoke to who had seen Jocelyn assured me of her patience and brilliance, I sat down and shared what I had eaten for the last 24 hours. After talking to me about my eating preferences and habits, she then began to make some positive suggestions; taking into account my likes and dislikes. Suggestions such as yogurt and nuts with my cereal in the morning to provide me with protein to give me more energy throughout the day, or fish once a week to make sure I get those all important Omega 3’s!

All the changes she brought up sounded very do-able. I can often be picky about foods and stubborn, I’m sure my partner would be glad to testify to that, but Jocelyn’s smile and common sense approach prevented me from ever digging my heals in. She asked about my family history and any medical issues I had and looked for foods that could help me feel good and avoid any future health problems. I really valued this approach as it helped me to try things that perhaps I would ordinarily dismiss as “not for me”… such as hummus! After trying it once a few years ago I hated hummus and decided chickpeas were for hippies. After discussing what it was that I didn’t like about hummus, Jocelyn suggested I try a particular brand and low and behold now I eat hummus on all of my sandwiches… and listen to The Grateful Dead.

At the end of the consultation she handed me a a list of everything we had discussed; complete with a grocery list of where to buy the items. And on the list there were even sweet treats! A week into my new regime I do feel better. There have been lapses, I guess that comes with the territory when your friends like Taco Bell, but on the whole I’m on a march to good health… powered by flax seed, walnuts and spinach. While many who make the resolution to eat better quickly recoil into a familiar groove of carbs and Coors come February, I think I can stick to it. Why? Well, fortunately for me, I work at NOURISH and have access to the all-knowing nutrition queen… Jocelyn Dubin!

Anthony

We Just Call It Christmas

In England we don’t call it the “Holidays”… we call it Christmas. Depending on your stand point you could say this is a classic example of British traditionalism … or a lack of cultural sensitivity. Either way, it is something that has stuck out for me as the festive season picks up speed. You see, prior to moving here my understanding of the American Christmas was derived from movies like “Christmas Vacation” or “Home Alone” and television. On the flat screen the American Christmas did not seem so different to the English one. How wrong I was…

Having observed the different traditions and nuances of both countires I have to say in my humble opinion there are both positives and negatives. I like what America brings to the food and beverages department… Egg nog, Gingerbread Houses and Spiced Pumpkin Lattes. Delicious. I think it is also fair to say that you do not do decorations by half over here. Stores and homes go all out and it looks great!

That being said, I think there are is one area where you could learn from your cousins across the pond… Christmas music.

Now don’t get me wrong, Bing Crosby, Jingle Bell Rock and something about Grandma getting run over by a reindeer… they all put me in the festive mood. However, listening to the “holiday station” in the car, I have encountered for too many truly terrible songs. I don’t know the names of half of them, but there’s a Faith Hill Christmas song that almost brought me to tears… and not in a good way. I’ve heard countless versions of the drummer boy, although I’ve yet to make it through the whole song, and in between these horrendous tunes I’m forced to listen to the cheesiest DJ’s to grace a microphone.

Now, it wouldn’t be right of me to just bash your music without at least providing a British alternative so I give you The Pogues and Kirsty McCall – FairyTale of New York

Merry Christmas!

My Top 4 Yoga Tips

I have only been practicing yoga regularly since I started working at NOURISH. Before that it was just MTV yoga dvd’s in the living room and an occasional free class if I could get a hold of a coupon. Since starting to do yoga more intensively at NOURISH, I have realized it is imperative to continue your practice on a regular basis. I feel more flexible, energized, relaxed and overall in better health if I do yoga at least once a week. In addition, keeping up with yoga helps me remember all the tips and adjustments I am supposed to be implementing!

Here are some things that I have learned at NOURISH which I like to keep in the front of my mind while I do yoga:

1. Keep your hands and feet active: Sometimes its easy to forget these extremities when you are concentrating on your back posture and the larger muscle groups involved in a pose. I felt and saw such and improvement in my practice after Victor gave me this little tip. Simply spreading your fingers or flexing your foot can activate more muscles and work them harder than letting your paws slack while you are in the pose. Flexing your foot makes the biggest difference for me in seated poses, where my legs can get lazy. It really helps stretch out my hamstrings and even gets into my back! As for your hands, Kate showed me that when you are in poses like  spreading your fingers wide without raising your wrist too much can help make your arms more active and involved.

2. Make it challenging, not painful: On Sunday, Kate said something very important for yogis of all levels: The difference between sharp pain and a slight challenge for your body. We are constantly trying to push ourselves further in yoga, both physically and spiritually. These changes should be incremental and positive in order to be most effective. If you feel a sharp pain in any pose, you went too far! Try to slowly fall deeper into the pose with each breath or ask for an adjustment from the instructor if you are just plain uncomfortable in a pose. Challenge is imperative for improvement in yoga, but the changes you make must be controlled and smooth in order to be beneficial.

3. Smile with your buttocks: Try it! Literally try to make your booty smile. I like this tip not only because of the physical effects, but also because it never fails to put a grin across my face! It’s hard to explain in a blog, but just try to uplift your butt with your back and core. Kate taught me this one as well, and it really helps to make poses engaging and comfortable. I think this technique is implemented mostly in standing poses, but I just try to do it in class whenever Kate mentions it. Mention it next time you are in class and I am sure she will be stoked to teach how and when it should be done.

4. Enjoy! Victor sometimes says this after students enter a pose and will be there for a while. I think this is one of the most important tips I have learned at NOURISH. If you are not having fun and feeling great, something needs to change! Yoga should be a positive experience that de-stresses you and brightens your day. Sometimes in the grind of things, people forget that they are at yoga and are supposed to be letting go. Don’t think about what you did that day or what you will do tomorrow, think about how you feel in the pose and just relax! Leave your stress at the door and enjoy some physical and spiritual release, that is what NOURISH is all about!

Keep in mind that I am not a yoga instructor, so these tips should be used with caution! These are just some things I like to remember when I do yoga that have helped me over the course of my practice. So….as Victor says: Enjoy!

Bonfire Night!

Remember, remember the fifth of November,
The gunpowder treason and plot,

I know of no reason,
Why the gunpowder treason,
Should ever be forgot.

Today I feel a little homesick as I think about the festivities that will occur in my home country tomorrow. November 5th is a holiday in England called Bonfire night, or Guy Fawkes night.

I won’t bore you with all the details but the gist of the history behind the holiday is that a band of dissenters led by a man called Guy Fawkes attempted to blow up King James I and his men with a large amount of gun powder in 1605 (he was Scottish – it’s a long story) .

Mr Fawkes was caught before he got the chance to light the fuse (his cousin betrayed him) and we celebrate the fact every year by setting off fireworks and lighting big bonfires. Some people even make a Guy Fawkes model out of hay and throw it on the bonfire too. It’s one of those twisted traditions that it is best not to really think about – needless to say it’s a lot of fun.

Although most towns organize a large bonfire and firework display for the public to attend, lots of people choose to hold their own bonfire night in the back garden. It’s certainly a fire risk (although England is mostly damp) and every year people blow off their fingers, but it’s also very exciting.

My family takes it pretty seriously. My mum and nana combine to cook soup, chili, baked potatoes and parkin (a kind of delicious gingerbread) while my dad and granddad are in charge of the fireworks. Like kids in a candy store, they pick out the biggest explosives we can safely ignite in our small back yard and then everyone drinks tea or beer and watches as their money goes up in colorful clouds of smoke!

It’s essentially an excuse for people to get together and have a fire and that’s why I think I like it so much. There’s something very pagan and honest about it… and who doesn’t like fireworks?

But this year I will miss out. California does not even allow me to let off a commemorative roman candle. Perhaps I’ll light a match and smell the smoke…

Anthony

Clean, Green and Mean – Tesla Motors

Here’s another note from the bright side:

So we’ve all heard the buzz about global warming and the problems it brings. It’s often difficult to find information on any potential solutions, which only adds to the feeling that we’ve got our collective head in the sands, but recently I found a breath of fresh air in learning about a company called TESLA MOTORS.
There was a recent interview that aired on the “On Point” NPR show that explained how TESLA is trying to move the entire automotive industry toward clean technology (you can learn more and listen to broadcast HERE.
By the sounds of it we could be seeing real electric cars on the road that can perform as well as a regular family car as soon as next year. I can’t wait for the day I recharge my car with solar panels and the left over energy goes back into the grid!
Mark