Tue08192014

News

Candidates finalized for schools, councils

Candidates finalized for schools, councils


Election season is officially in full swing, as eligible candidates for various city council and school district seats met Friday’s filing deadline set by the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters.

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Schools

Local tutoring center earns kudos in parent magazine's reader poll

Local tutoring center earns kudos in parent magazine's reader poll


Courtesy of Kobad Bugwadia
Mathnasium’s fourth-grade participants, from left, Jenna Haynie, Maelle Allanic, Tanish Gupta, Hamza Raza and David Chan, join instructors to celebrate their achievements in the tutoring center’s national TriMathlon this ...

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Community

Back to School: Tips, kits and a poem

Back to School: Tips, kits and a poem

Los Altos teachers are readying their rooms this week for the coming onslaught of students, and parents are digging back out lunch boxes and pencil cases (do we still use those?) And here in the newsroom, Town Crier writers offered a slate of back-to...

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Sports

Tyler Johnson: From hills to Heat

Tyler Johnson: From hills to Heat


Courtesy of NBAE/Getty Images
Shooting guard Tyler Johnson, a St. Francis High graduate from Mountain View, signed with the Miami Heat last week.

Signed by the Miami Heat as an undrafted free agent last week, rookie Tyler Johnson faces an uphill ba...

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Comment

Really, why the, eh, consolidation?

The recent merger (consolidation?) of the newly formed Friends of Los Altos (FOLA) and the 14-year-old civic organization Los Altos Neighborhood Network (LANN) left us puzzled.

A July 28 press release, which did not state plainly that the merger fol...

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Special Sections

Globetrotting – one glass at a time

Globetrotting – one glass at a time


Christine Moore/Special to the Town Crier
Take a tour of the world from your own picnic table with a selection of regional wines, above. Argentina’s white wines, left, pair well with a choriza pizza (see recipe on page 35).

I’m taking a...

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Business

Torrey Pines Bank names regional president

Torrey Pines Bank names regional president


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Torrey Pines Bank recently named Fred Voss its regional president for the Bay Area. The bank has branches at 20 First St. in Los Altos, above, and in Oakland and Southern California.

Torrey Pines Bank last week appointed ...

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Books

People

SHERRY DYCE BARBA

SHERRY DYCE BARBA

Sherry Dyce Barba, dear wife of Peter Barba, and a longtime resident of Los Altos, passed away peacefully on July 27, 2014, at The Forum, in Cupertino. She was surrounded by loving family members and visited continuously in her last weeks by a legi...

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Travel

Bergama bound: A visit to newest World Heritage site

Bergama bound: A visit to newest World Heritage site


Photo Eren GÖknar/ Special to the Town Crier
The amphitheater in Turkey’s ancient city of Pergamon, now known as Bergama, overlooks the Bakirçay River valley, left. The city’s ruins also include the Temple of Trajan.

It was 90 F during t...

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Stepping Out

No ‘Water’ shortage in Mtn. View


Kevin Berne/Special to the Town Crier
Elliot (Miles Gaston Villanueva) struggles to understand Odessa’s (Zilah Mendoza) online activity in TheatreWorks’ regional premiere of the Pulitzer Prize-winning drama “Water by the Spoonful....

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Spiritual Life

Spiritual Briefs

Meditation group meets at Foothills Congregational

A Weekly Meditation Practice group meets 7-8:15 a.m. Tuesdays at Foothills Congregational Church, 461 Orange Ave., Los Altos.

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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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