Fri08012014

News

"Brown is the new green," says local water district


Lina Broydo/Special to the Town Crier
Are downtown Los Altos flower pots getting too much water? The Santa Clara Valley Water District plans to hire “water cops” to discourage overwatering.

The Santa Clara Valley Water District is spending nearl...

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Schools

Foothill camps prepare local students for STEM careers

Foothill camps prepare local students for STEM careers


Photos Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Middle school students make robotic hands using 3-D printers during a STEM Summer Camp at Foothill College.

From designing roller coasters to developing biodegradable plastics, high school students received an i...

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Community

Local entrepreneur opens home to Afghan and Rwandan women

Local entrepreneur opens home to Afghan and Rwandan women


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Businesswomen Joan Mazimhaka of Rwanda, third from left, and Fakhria Ibrahimi of Afghanistan, in orange, traveled to the U.S. with a 26-woman delegation through the Peace Through Business program.

Employees scoop ice ...

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Comment

Moving on: The Rockey Road

Just over a month ago, we decided to put our house on the market. My husband and I had been tossing around the idea of moving back to the area where we grew up, which is only approximately 40 minutes from here. Of course, Los Altos is a great place t...

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Business

Halo heads to Los Altos: Blow-dry bar founder opens new First Street location Monday

Halo heads to Los Altos: Blow-dry bar founder opens new First Street location Monday


ElLie Van Houtte/ Town Crier
Armed with blow dryers, Halo founder Rosemary Camposano, left, and store manager Nikki Thomas prepare for the blow-dry bar’s grand opening on First Street Monday.

A blow-dry bar is set to open downtown Monday, and i...

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Books

"Frozen in Time" chronicles harrowing WWII rescue attempts


Many readers can’t resist a true-life adventure story, especially those that shine a spotlight on people who exhibit supreme courage in the face of adversity and end up surviving – or not – against the odds.

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People

DR. ALFRED HUGHES

Long time Los Altos resident, Dr. Alfred Hughes, died May 1st after a long illness. Dr. Hughes was born in 1927 in Maspeth, NY. He served in the US Army from 1945-6, attended Brooklyn Polytechnic University, then graduated from Reed College in Portla...

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Travel

Travel Tidbit: Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe offers spa getaway

Travel Tidbit: Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe offers spa getaway


Courtesy of Ritz-Carlton
The Ritz-Carlton in Lake Tahoe offers fall getaway packages that include spa treatments and yoga classes.

Fall in North Lake Tahoe boasts crisp mornings and opportunities to spend quality time in the mountains. Specially ...

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Stepping Out

'Wizard' winds down at Bus Barn

'Wizard' winds down at Bus Barn


Town Crier file photo
Local actors rehearse a scene from “The Wizard of Oz.”

Los Altos Youth Theatre and Los Altos Stage Company’s collaborative production of “The Wizard of Oz” is slated to close Sunday at Bus Barn Theater, 97 Hillview Ave.

T...

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Spiritual Life

Stanford University appoints new dean for religious life

Stanford University appoints new dean for religious life


Shaw

Stanford University named the Very Rev. Dr. Jane Shaw, dean of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, its new dean for religious life.

Provost John Etchemendy announced Shaw’s appointment July 21, adding that she also will join the faculty in...

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Magazine

Festival features fun for everyone

Festival features fun for everyone


TOWN CRIER FILE PHOTO
The Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival boasts more than 375 craft and arts booths.

This weekend’s 35th annual Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival promises to be jam-packed with fun activities for just about everyone. The eve...

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Be healthier through gratitude

Our brains are hardwired to pay attention to the negative, and for good reason. Our ancestors, who were alert, watchful and worried, survived. Those who weren’t were eaten.

But today our DNA’s disposition puts us into a state of unnecessary chronic stress – stress that raises our blood pressure, causes anxiety or depression and hurts our health in many ways.

“To survive better in our 21st-century lives, it’s important to learn to react less automatically and negatively to the stresses that bombard us. We can do this by practicing skills that increase our capacity for appreciation, and for calming our bodies and minds,” said Renée Burgard, LCSW, a psychotherapist who teaches mindfulness and stress reduction classes at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation and at Silicon Valley companies such as Google and Apple.

But how?

One way is to cultivate an “attitude of gratitude,” Burgard said – and gratitude is about more than saying thanks.

“Gratitude is paying attention to what we have, and cultivating a heartfelt sense of appreciation for it,” she noted.

In short, it’s rewiring your brain to counteract the negativity bias by paying attention to what’s positive. Research shows that people who focus on gratitude feel better, sleep better and are less likely to feel depressed. They’re also more generous to others. And, in studies of adolescents, they’re happier in school. But you can’t just snap your fingers and feel gratitude.

“It’s important not to force it,” Burgard said. “Instead, pay attention to what you appreciate, and what you feel thankful for. It takes practice.”

Following are Burgard’s three simple ways to get started.

What’s not wrong?

When you’re tense or upset, ask yourself, “What’s not wrong?” This practice, from the Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh, helps you find the good in your life during hard times. You may be insanely busy on a project, but you have work that you enjoy. You may be fighting with your spouse, but you have a shared family you love. No matter what the situation, stop for a minute to consider what’s not wrong.

“It’s hard to access gratitude sometimes,” Burgard said. “What’s not wrong is a bridge to gratitude. It’s a way to think about positive things in our lives without forcing it.”

Three good things

“Each night before you go to sleep, think of three good things – or ‘not wrong’ things – that happened that day,” Burgard said. “Write them down, and spend a little time reflecting on what brought those things into your life.”

This is a classic gratitude practice that helps you pay attention to the positive in your life.

Take in the good

This practice is from Rick Hanson, Ph.D., a neuropsychologist who wrote the book “Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence” (Harmony, 2013). Think back to a positive experience, and remember everything you can about it. Relive it in your mind. Breathe in deeply, taking in the pleasantness. Then breathe out and imagine that you’re sending the pleasantness to every cell of your body.

“By focusing on and staying with a pleasant memory, you’re rewiring your brain,” Burgard said. “Remember, our brains are Velcro for negative and Teflon for positive. You need to stay with pleasant memories and events to make them stick.”

If you’re glued to your smartphone, you can take your gratitude practice with you wherever you go. Try the apps Gratitude! and Live Happy on the iPhone, or the Attitude for Gratitude Journal on the Android. There are many others – most inexpensive or free – so check around.

And if you’re inclined to dismiss the gratitude movement as psychobabble, take a moment to reconsider.

“Paying attention just once a day to what you appreciate is enough to have an effect on your life,” Burgard said. “There’s science behind it. Gratitude is a way to open the door to more happiness.”

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