Category Archives: Culture

Happy Chinese New Year 2015 – Year of the Goat

Chinese New Year GoatLet’s Celebrate the Chinese New Year!

Chinese New Year is the longest and most important celebration in the Chinese calendar. The Chinese year 4713 begins on Feb. 19, 2015.

Chinese months are reckoned by the lunar calendar, with each month beginning on the darkest day. New Year festivities traditionally start on the first day of the month and continue until the fifteenth, when the moon is brightest. In China, people may take weeks of holiday from work to prepare for and celebrate the New Year.

Legend has it that in ancient times, Buddha asked all the animals to meet him on Chinese New Year. Twelve came, and Buddha named a year after each one. He announced that the people born in each animal’s year would have some of that animal’s personality. Those born in sheep years are often artistic, charming, sensitive, and sweet. It is known as the most creative sign in the Chinese zodiac. Jane Austen, Boris Becker, Jamie Foxx, Mel Gibson, Michelangelo, Mark Twain, Rudolph Valentino, Barbara Walters, Bruce Willis, and Orville Wright were born in the year of the sheep.

At Chinese New Year celebrations people wear red clothes, decorate with poems on red paper, and give children “lucky money” in red envelopes. Red symbolizes fire, which according to legend can drive away bad luck. The fireworks that shower the festivities are rooted in a similar ancient custom. Long ago, people in China lit bamboo stalks, believing that the crackling flames would frighten evil spirits.

In China, the New Year is a time of family reunion. Family members gather at each other’s homes for visits and shared meals, most significantly a feast on New Year’s Eve. In the United States, however, many early Chinese immigrants arrived without their families, and found a sense of community through neighborhood associations instead. Today, many Chinese-American neighborhood associations host banquets and other New Year events.

The lantern festival is held on the fifteenth day of the first lunar month. Some of the lanterns may be works of art, painted with birds, animals, flowers, zodiac signs, and scenes from legend and history. People hang glowing lanterns in temples, and carry lanterns to an evening parade under the light of the full moon.

In many areas the highlight of the lantern festival is the dragon dance. The dragon—which might stretch a hundred feet long—is typically made of silk, paper, and bamboo. Traditionally the dragon is held aloft by young men who dance as they guide the colorful beast through the streets. In the United States, where the New Year is celebrated with a shortened schedule, the dragon dance always takes place on a weekend. In addition, many Chinese-American communities have added American parade elements such as marching bands and parades.

Although most Americans know today’s holiday as the Chinese New Year, the Chinese have been calling it the Spring Festival since 1912. That is because in 1912, they adopted the Gregorian calendar and moved to celebrating the New Year on January 1st. To preserve the holiday, they changed the name to the Spring Festival.

This holiday is one of the most significant in China, and originally developed as an opportunity to celebrate deities and ancestors. It was celebrated by gathering family together to feast, and consequently became an important opportunity for family to reconnect each year.

Australia Day is January 26, 2015.

Aussie beachThis year, Australia Day falls on the 26th of January. This day is intended to support and spread the values of Australians as a whole.

My youngest child and my only daughter has been living in Australia since June 2014. She has enjoyed her time there tremendously and experienced an amazing array of activities, events, travel, friendships and terrific employment opportunities. This picture is one that she sent me recently.

The only time I traveled to Australia was with my daughter on a cruise that originated in Hong Kong and traveled south, eventually taking us to Darwin, Brisbane and ultimately Sydney.

We fed koalas, kangaroos, toured the world famous Sydney Opera House, walked across the bridge and enjoyed the sights and the people.
The cost of living is tremendous there so it is very expensive to eat and drink. I remember taking us to a restaurant for ‘happy hour’ and a Smirnoff cocktail was $22 and that was Aussie dollars, which at the time was even more expensive then US dollars.

It is almost surreal when I look at her photos because the colors are so vivid and lustrous. We chatted on the telephone yesterday and she told me about all of the festivities that are involved in celebrating Australia Day.

Whether you are Australian or not, there are a variety of ways in which you can recognize the holiday, including but not limited to:

If you are interested in holding a public Australia Day event in your community, allow the Australia Day website to broadcast and promote your event!

If you are Australian, take a moment to think about what makes you proud to be whom you are. The Australian of the Year Awards acts as a nationwide celebration of the achievements of Australians.

Australians living in America can partake in an Australian Citizenship Affirmation ceremony where they can affirm their commitment and loyalty to Australia.

Are you simply an #AussieFan? Share the word on all of your social media pages describing what makes you passionate about Australia.

See Austrailia Day for more information.

Facebook became my ‘friend’ in my time of need!

Mark ZuckerbergMost of us use Facebook for various reasons, not always alike. Connecting with friends, connecting with causes, connecting with celebrities, connecting with products and services.
However, an interesting thing happened to me recently with my ‘relationship’ with Facebook. I found myself in the Emergency Room of a hospital due to a friend’s medical situation. My time there was not planned. I rushed to be by her side as soon as I heard the news so I was unprepared for the hours and hours and hours that it took the physicians and medical staff to tend to her needs, get her body/health stabilized and ultimately, get her discharged.
Thus I found myself by myself as she slipped in and out of consciousness. I didn’t have a book or a newspaper. I didn’t have the use of a television. In short, I was stuck with nothing to do, no one to talk with and nothing to read.
Enter Facebook – I opened my Facebook account on my iPhone and suddenly a world opened up to me. Stories and posts that I might ordinarily have skipped over since I don’t usually have the luxury of having so much time to dawdle over everyone’s life events.
But on this day, at that moment, not only was I not going insane by simply being idle, I was able to delve and read and revel and shudder and cry at all of the humanity that were on those pages that folks took the time to share.
I know that it might sound trivial, or else you could ordinarily say, “get a life” but this time, at that moment, it was a life saver for me.
I was able to keep my vigil for my friend in her time of need and I was also able to fully relish the lives that others have and cared to share.
So in that instance, I realized what a life saver social media can be. It isn’t just bragging or being voyeuristic, for me it was a life line to the real world and it kept me company in my time of need.
Thank you Facebook and thank you all for sharing! Warmly, Maria

Friday, September 5th, 2014 – Love Coach

Bruce StarrAre you out of your mind to be in love?  This question and more relationship advice is the subject of today’s conversation with the original Luv Coach, Bruce Starr.

Bruce started relationship advising and relationship socializing on the internet in 1993. This is a very revealing subject matter because it explores how and why we fail to thrive emotionally.

Join us and learn how to stop preventing ourselves from having love in our lives.

One of the first and most important steps that we can take in creating a loving relationship in our lives is to first love ourselves unconditionally with abundance and acceptance. Warts, blemishes, short comings, failings, all part of the human condition are also preventing us from attaining what we want in our lives.

After we agree to have self acceptance, to recognize that we need to love ourselves more and that we operate out of love as a basic essence, then we are able to love another unconditionally.
The next three steps should be to stop dating. Slow down. Stop rushing to find the next great love of our lives.

If we’ve given away all that we have to give and thus have an “empty pie plate” and most likely match up with someone else who also has an “empty pie plate” then we have nothing to give and nothing to receive.

Finally, meditation is important. Meditation will help keep us quiet and centered. It will help us to stop judging ourselves, to operate with kindness towards others and operate selfishly – as opposed to self centered.

Being selfish means that we are there for ourselves. Being self-centered means that we expect that the world will revolve around us.
Lastly, we should feel love and not think love. Find out more by listening now! Please feel free to contact us about additional topics you would like to explore and learn more about the Body Traders.

Changing the face of the world! Steven Svoboda

Maria & Steven Svoboda August 2014

At the Maria Sanchez Show, we try and focus as much as possible on good news. Oftentimes it isn’t so easy to do so. For whatever reason, the human condition appears to need stimulation and we find it in salacious, dramatic, tragic situations. Thus the rubber necking that occurs on our roadways when there is an accident.

This is why the media focuses on blood and guts. Either we have prurient interest or we want to be distracted so very much from our own existences that we focus on the horror.

Enter one of my idols, a man that I am proud to call a collaborator, and someone who is literally changing the way we look at an issue that was traditionally and socially acceptable – male circumcision.

When I first met Steven, I was working at an NPR affiliate as a talk show host and I brought him on the program to talk about female genital mutilation and what was occurring at that time in Africa.

In our conversation, Steven compared that atrocity with male circumcision. Of course I rebuffed his words and the concept as “our” circumcision in the United States is conducted by a mohel (a Jewish practitioner) or a physician, in clean, sanitary, well lit and controlled circumstances.

After all I argued, my father, my 2 brothers, my 3 sons and my ex-husband were all circumcised. That’s just what we do. That’s how ignorant I was at that time in my life.

Steven’s point to me then and to this day (we’re talking late ’90s) was, “genital mutilation is genital mutilation, regardless of the gender and the circumstances.”

That began a 15+ year of professional collaboration. I affectionately have called Steven our “Circumcision Correspondent” because he visits with us whenever circumcision is in the news.

The organization he founded 20+ years ago which is his passion to this day, Attorneys for the Rights of the Child, seeks to educate people, physicians, cultures, countries about surgically removing viable skin for cosmetic reasons. www.arclaw.org for more information.

Steven and I had never met in person. This picture of the two of us was taken last Friday, August 22 in Santa Monica, CA as we finally had an opportunity to speak to one another face to face.

I hope you’re helping to make this world a better place! Steven is a shining example of that.