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#OmahaMunchMadness 2018

July 6, 2018 by and
Illustration by Matt Wieczorek

For the main feature article (read it here) in Omaha Magazine’s July/August issue, we determined there are 49 zip codes in the Omaha-Council Bluffs metropolitan area. 

We worked with a freelance food writer and a team of foodie-influencers on Instagram to assemble a list of one dish for every zip code.

Once we compiled the list, writer Sara Locke, editors, and the Instagrammers collaborated on narrowing the list down to the 32 most popular dishes in the zip code guide. 

Why did we narrow the field to 32?

Because it is time for Munch Madness! 

Munch Madness is Omaha Magazine’s take on March Madness (but with dishes representing zip codes). And instead of one month, this contest will span July and August.

We will announce the date pairings in this initial Round of 32 zip code picks at our July/August magazine launch at the Florence Mill on July 8. Zip codes will be randomly paired for the Round of 32. The subsequent round of Sweet 16, Elite Eight, Final Four, and Championship will be determined by polls on Facebook.

Come back to this page for updates on the bracket and times. We will update the bracket as Munch Madness progresses. Each pairing will have 24 hours before a winner is declared.

Voting will take place on Facebook at @OmahaMagazine. We will tag each poll with the hashtag #OmahaMunchMadness to make the polls easier to find on Facebook.

Do you disagree with our team’s selections for each zip code? If you disagree with any zip code picks, let us know on Instagram at @OmahaMagazine by following these steps; we will repost your alternate zip code pick to spread the love:

  • Upload a photo of the dish you think is more worthy to Instagram.
  • Check in at the restaurant.
  • Write the name of the dish along with the hashtag #OmahaMunchMadness in the caption of the Instagram post.
  • Tag us at @OmahaMagazine

Most of all, we hope Munch Madness makes you hungry. Whether you agree or disagree with our zip code picks, don’t forget to vote in the Best of Omaha contest here: http://omahamagazine.com/best-of-omaha/.

Updates

Round of 32

July 9th
Azteca Burrito Supreme (68138) vs. Crispy Mushroom Sandwich (68028)
WINNER: Azteca Burrito Supreme (68138)

July 10th
Bolognese Bianco (68132) vs. Whole Catfish Dinner (68110)
WINNER: Bolognese Bianco (68132)

July 11
Oven-Fried Chicken (68111) vs. Hummus with Beef Shawarma (68114)
WINNER: Oven-Fried Chicken (68111)

July 12
Stuffed Eggplant Papoutsakia (68134) vs. Barbacoa Short Ribs (68106)
WINNER: Barbacoa Short Ribs (68106)

July 13
Negi Hamachi Roll (68164) vs. The Mia (68118)
WINNER: Negi Hamachi Roll (68164)

July 15
Pan-Seared Salmon (68046) vs. Pizza Rosso (68122)
WINNER: Pizza Rosso (68122)

July 16
Beef Bulgogi (68127) vs. Diavolo (68131)
WINNER: Diavolo (68131)

July 17
Thai Salmon Salad (68154) vs. Omakase (68005)
WINNER: Omakase (68005)

July 18
Wings with Habanero Sauce (68007) vs. Chicken Tikka Madras (68144)
WINNER: Chicken Tikka Madras (68144)

July 19
Classic Gyro (68130) vs. Flaming Saganaki (68105)
WINNER: Flaming Saganaki (68105)

July 20
Tonkotsu Ramen (68104) vs. Whiskey Steak Sirloin (68124)
WINNER: Whiskey Steak Sirloin (68124)

July 23
Croque Garcon Burger (68102) vs. Menudo (68107)
WINNER: Croque Garcon Burger (68102)

July 24
Tacos (51510) vs. Fried Ice Cream (68069)
WINNER: Fried Ice Cream (68069)

July 25
Pop Tarts (68135) vs. Country Sunrise (68137)
WINNER: Country Sunrise (68137)

July 26
Prime Rib (51526) vs. Egg Yolk Raviolo (68108)
WINNER: Prime Rib (51526)

July 27
Lust (68123) vs. Vermicelli Rice Noodles (68136)
WINNER: Vermicelli Rice Noodles (68136)

Sweet Sixteen

July 31
Azteca Burrito Supreme (68138) vs Bolognese Bianco (68132)
WINNER: Bolognese Bianco (68132)

August 1
Oven-Fried Chicken (68111) vs. Barbacoa Short Ribs (68106)
WINNER: Oven-Fried Chicken (68111)

August 2
Negi Hamachi Roll (68164) vs. Pizza Rosso (68122)
WINNER: Pizza Rosso (68122)

August 3
Beef Bulgogi (68127) vs. Omakase (68005)
WINNER: Beef Bulgogi (68127)

August 7
Chicken Tikka Madras (68144) vs. Flaming Saganaki (68105)
WINNER: Chicken Tikka Madras (68144)

August 8
Whiskey Steak Sirloin (68124) vs. Croque Garcon Burger (68102)
WINNER: Whiskey Steak Sirloin (68124)

August 9
Fried Ice Cream (68069) vs. Country Sunrise (68137)
WINNER: Country Sunrise (68137)

August 10
Prime Rib (51526) vs. Vermicelli Rice Noodle Bowl (68136)
WINNER: Prime Rib (51526)

Elite Eight

August 14
Bolognese Bianco (68132) vs. Oven-Fried Chicken (68111)
WINNER: Bolognese Bianco (68132)

August 15
Pizza Rosso (68122) vs. Beef Bulgogi (68127)
WINNER: Pizza Rosso (68122)

August 16
Chicken Tikka Madras (68144) vs. Whiskey Steak Sirloin (68124)
WINNER: Whiskey Steak Sirloin (68124)

August 17
Prime Rib (51526) vs. Country Sunrise (68137)
WINNER: Prime Rib (51526)

Final Four

August 20
Bolognese Bianco (68132) vs. Pizza Rosso (68122)
WINNER: Pizza Rosso (68122)

August 21
Whiskey Steak Sirloin (68124) vs. Prime Rib (51526)
WINNER: Prime Rib (51526)

May/June 2018 About the Cover

May 11, 2018 by

Last summer in the far northwest corner of Nebraska, an Omaha-based photographer (who goes by the handle @ONElapse on Instagram and Facebook) set out to capture a timelapse of sunset. This issue’s cover image was taken from the timelapse, which spanned several hours. It was windy and raining lightly, but no sign of inclement weather can be seen in this frame. Look for the photographer, accompanied by his dog, setting up another camera along the ridge in the vicinity of Fort Robinson.


March/April Instagram

March 1, 2018 by

Here are the nine images featured in our March/April issue. Include the hashtag #OmahaMagazine with your Instagram photos to be featured in the next issue of Omaha Magazine.

Follow Omaha Magazine on social media via Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Find us at @omahamagazine.

@sarxcasey

@rayheckert

@eternal_and_unchanging

@boipinoy

@cooper_333

@bartyandlalo

@sherry_591

@wanderrockphotography

@lolasblest

These photos were printed in the March/April 2018 edition of Omaha Magazine.

The Morel of the Story

April 5, 2017 by
Photography by Doug Meigs
Illustration by Mady Besch

Morel-mania usually begins around mid-to-late April. Inconsistent Midwestern weather prevents forecasting the exact start of morel mushroom season year-to-year.

Morel (aka morchella) mushrooms begin to flush en masse when spring rains alternate with patches of sunshine atop warming ground temperatures.

Morels are distinctive and easy to identify, with their porous and sponge-like brownish heads atop tan/white stems. Their caps might also be described as honeycombed and cone-shaped; they come in grey (smaller) and yellow (larger) varieties.

Foodies covet the delicious morsels of fungal delight. Morels are known for a unique nutty flavor. Popular recipes include: battered and deep-fried, scrambled with eggs, used as garnish, or dried for later consumption.

As a general rule, the morel season coincides with the blooming of lilacs. Morels also return to the same place every year—if their mycelium underground remains healthy. That means avid mushroom hunters often keep their favorite spots a secret.

If you see one morel, stop. Slow down and scan the ground. They grow in clusters. Morels hide in the deep woods, near the bases of old-growth trees, overturned trunks, and decomposing vegetation. They pop from grassy areas, near the banks of rivers, and on hillsides.

Along with monitoring lilac bushes, paying attention to the weather forecast helps foragers to prepare for morel season. Be ready for periods of sudden downpours of rain combined with warm daytime temperatures (70 degrees or more) and nights that linger above 40 degrees for at least four days in a row.

If you anticipate a sunny day following a torrential spring downpour, get ready. Put on your rain jacket, and rush to your favorite mushrooming spot as soon as the rains lift.

Grab some good mud boots (or old sneakers), and make sure you have a mesh bag that allows the mushrooms’ spores to escape and spread. Local outdoors shops sell mesh bags for morels. Onion or potato sacks from the grocery store also work well.

If you’ve never been mushroom hunting, it’s time to start begging friends to show you how. Or, do a little research and go explore any publicly accessible backwoods along local rivers.

There are several popular local destinations for morel hunters. But any densely vegetated public land (with plenty of overturned trees) along the Missouri River or Platte River could yield a plentiful haul of morels. That is, if the area hasn’t been picked over already.

The website morels.com hosts a useful and interesting Nebraska forum. Other useful resources can be found at thegreatmorel.com, morelhunters.com, and the “Nebraska Morels” Facebook group.

Beware of gun-toting hunters in the woods. Morel season corresponds with the spring turkey hunting season. Also, avoid trespassing. Common courtesy (and the law) necessitates seeking permission to hunt for mushrooms on private property.

Remember that wild mushrooms can be deadly. Only pick and cook mushrooms you can identify with complete confidence. Search online for “false morels” and make sure you can tell the difference. False morels are poisonous.

In 2016, the website of Nebraska Game and Parks maintained weekly morel reports from April 13 through May 11. The Game and Parks website also provides tips for locating morels, and even suggests a few popular mushroom hunting grounds.

Proactive scouting is a good strategy—if only to monitor the human traffic in the woods. The morel season around Omaha usually only lasts from two to four weeks, depending on weather conditions. Sometimes the peak of the season takes place in May.

Evidence of over-picked stems and decaying mushrooms indicate that the morel season is well progressed.

Remember: if you share a mushroom hunting spot with a “friend,” there is a very good chance they will tell someone else. Then, all those other folks might just go pick all the morels while you’re stuck at work, in school, or caught in some other less fulfilling endeavor.

Heed the moral of this morel story. When the lilacs bloom, somebody is probably picking over your favorite morel grounds. So, if you’ve got a good spot, consider keeping it a secret.

Visit outdoornebraska.gov/morel for more information.

Morel Mushroom Hunting Sites

Suggested by Nebraska Game and Parks:

Public areas near rivers:

  • Eugene T. Mahoney State Park
  • Indian Cave State Park
  • Louisville State Recreation Area
  • Platte River State Park
  • Schramm Park State Recreation Area
  • Two Rivers State Recreation Area

Old-growth forests and creeks at:

  • Branched Oak State Recreation Area
  • Burchard Wildlife Management Area
  • Grove Lake Wildlife Management Area
  • Pawnee Lake State Recreation Area
  • Twin Lakes Wildlife Management Area
  • Yellow Banks Wildlife Management Area

 

This article was printed in the March/April 2017 edition of Omaha Home.

Job Search Advice

January 31, 2017 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

The wage gap is closing, in large part due to women who are no longer satisfied with just a steady income.

Though Nebraska is often touted as a thriving job market for men and women alike, the state has earned a C-minus grade for employment and earnings of women from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research and is ranked 31st in the nation—behind Iowa, Missouri, and most of the East Coast. Women in Nebraska are earning an average of 73.1 cents for every dollar made by men. While the wage gap is closing, at this rate of progress, Nebraska will not achieve equal pay for men and women until 2066.

However negative these statistics may seem, the job searching process for women is brighter today than it has ever been. The career search and application process is changing rapidly, and women learn at a fast pace. Thanks to the availability of resources to determine salaries of others in their prospective field, women are finding the process to be significantly less daunting and more hopeful.

When engaging in a job search, an activity that local résumé writer Bridget (Weide) Brooks says is now occurring close to every two to three years in an adult’s life, women are less commonly left to guess at how their salaries stack up to those of male counterparts in the same field or wonder about the dollar value of their unique skills.

Cindy Wagner

Cindy Wagner

Career coach Cindy Wagner finds that the biggest mistake women make in their job search is to underestimate their skills, or “undersell themselves.” Wagner works with women to discover skills that they tend to disregard. She looks for the unique, and often less quantifiable, talents of each individual. As she guides a client’s career search, she starts by helping people uncover what truly drives them to seek out a new career, the idea beyond a simple paycheck.

The wage gap is closing, in large part due to women who are no longer satisfied with just a steady income. As more and more women make their way into higher ranking positions within companies, potential employees are setting higher goals than previous generations—and achieving them. Motivation to not only get a job, but to be hired by a company where their passions and talents will be utilized, is increasingly enabling women to surpass competition in the job market.

Wagner’s next step is working with clients to develop a picture of what their ideal job would look like, factoring in their individual passions to create a fulfilling career concept. Then she helps with résumé, LinkedIn profiles, and other factors in her clients’ personal branding to make sure that the materials clearly and accurately reflect the value of the individual.

A common problem faced by many women trying to create their personal brand is accounting for time outside of the workforce, often spent caring for children or aging parents. Taking time off to care for children can be especially problematic in Nebraska, which the Institute for Women’s Policy Research ranks 50th in reproductive rights. Although many might consider a gap of a few years or more in their work history to be a weak point on their résumé, professionals such as Brooks and Wagner see such areas as opportunities for articulation of “softer” skills that could be a major asset for any job seeker. Companies hire employees because they have a problem, a need that is unmet. A potential employee who is able to discuss their problem-solving skills articulately makes for a strong candidate in almost any field.

Volunteer experience, work with school organizations, problem solving, and interpersonal skills can all help raise the value of potential employees. Brooks emphasizes that gaps in work history are not necessarily a weakness if workers know how to showcase that time in a clear way. While it is helpful to take a few classes or continue to work part-time outside the home, the most important strategy to rejoining the workforce is to maintain connections with coworkers.

Overall, the uncertainty Brooks and Wagner see the most frequently in their female clients stems from a lack of confidence. Women tend to be less aggressive in their job search and avoid “bragging” in their application process, which can impact a potential employer’s perception of their value as workers. Advice from a professional career coach or résumé writer can help build that confidence and show women that their skills translate to career opportunities.

With information about the dollar value of talents available on the internet, women are now more prepared than ever to use their skills as leverage in negotiation of salary, benefits, and flexibility of hours. Women are great at building relationships, especially with other women, and shouldn’t be afraid to use those connections. Brooks states plainly, “people hire people.” Research, some self-reflection, and a strong résumé can help women and their prospective employers understand that their skills are worth far more than 73 cents on the dollar.

Visit omahacareercoach.com for more information.

Bridget (Weide) Brooks

Bridget (Weide) Brooks

 

 

 

Top Ten Networking Tips

by Bridget (Weide) Brooks

Person-to-person networking is the single most effective way to find a new job, according to a survey conducted by Right Management, with 46 percent of jobseekers identifying networking as the reason they found their most recent job. Here’s 10 easy ways for women to build, nurture, and grow their personal network.

1. Don’t wait until you need a job to build your network. You should be constantly building—and strengthening—your connections with your network. Do something to build your network each and every day, whether that’s sending an email to someone you haven’t talked to in a while or identifying someone new you want to meet.

2. Don’t think of networking as some big, scary thing. It’s talking to people. It’s asking them for help. It’s offering help. It’s about cultivating relationships, not doing some forced, fake thing.

3. Identify who is already in your network. Take out a sheet of paper and make a list of all the people you know: friends, relatives, parents of children’s friends, parents and relatives of your friends, club members, cousins, neighbors, current and previous co-workers and managers, suppliers, professional association contacts, your community contacts (civic leaders, clergy, etc.), alumni connections, and your doctor, financial adviser, attorney, etc. Your holiday card list can be a good starting point for identifying who is already in your network.

4. Remember the principle of “Six Degrees of Separation.” Research shows that you are likely six people away from the person you want to reach. There’s fun in figuring out how to get to that person. A practical application of this is to look for the person on LinkedIn and see who is connected to that person that you already know. Reach out to your contact offline (not on LinkedIn, but by phone or in person) and ask if they can help you connect with that person.

5. The power of the network is not just the people you know—it’s the people those people know. What if you can’t find a contact in common? Don’t be afraid to ask your network to help connect you with someone who has the information or resources you need. A very practical way to do this, for example, is to send a group text message or Facebook Messenger message that says, “Do any of you know someone who works for ABC Company?”

6. Give to get. Be the person who reaches out to your network of contacts regularly (at least a couple of times a year) to see what they are doing, to acknowledge those efforts, and to offer to provide assistance (should they need it). Segment your list of contacts into a “to do” list of check-ins. But make sure you are focusing on them when you make contact, not on you. You probably know someone who only contacts you when they need something. Don’t be that person.

7. Make time to get out and see people. The most powerful networking contacts are in-person, one-to-one interactions. If possible, arrange one to two coffee or after-work happy hour meetings with someone in your network each month. Also, when possible, attend networking events (for example, those hosted by a professional organization). If you can’t do that, network where you already are: your child’s soccer game, your neighborhood grocery store, and even at sporting events.

8. Network online. Participate in an online community. This can be a social networking site like Facebook or LinkedIn, an alumni site (like Classmates.com) or your trade association’s website (which might have an e-list or message board to connect members). However, remember that online networking is not a substitute for in-person networking.

9. Be very specific when you activate your network. Identify the specific need you have, and then contact people who are in a position to help you reach that specific goal. You’ll sometimes see someone post a public request for help finding a new job—but more often, these types of requests are made individually and not as a broad “call for help.”

10. Once you build it, use it! Women are extraordinarily talented at creating small, powerful networks—we just need to do a better job of using them!

A Hole Truth

August 26, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

There are two things everybody has…” Those are the wise words of my grandfather, Johannes, who hated Kaiser Bill, loved bacon ends, and worked the hard soil of northern Iowa for most of his life. I won’t complete his sentence because people are easily offended these days by references to certain anatomical features of the human animal. 

One of those things is an opinion. I’ve got one—an opinion that is—that matches up with about any subject. So do you. We’re all opinionated.

In fact, we live in the Golden Age of Opinions. They’ve never been easier to access: Facebook, Twitter, blogs, pundit TV, talk radio, YouTube, and your inebriated uncle at every family gathering no matter whether it’s a funeral or a feast.

Surveys and polls suggest that 95 percent of us have an opinion about everything. We opine about subjects left and right with barely a breath in between. Vapor trails in the sky, head football coaches, the kids today, whether pumpkin spice flavor has any place in a sane world, and politics—whatever the subject, we have our own personal take on the matter. The five percent who answer “no opinion” are bald-faced liars. At least, that’s my opinion. As for “undecided” voters, don’t get me started. As the Mean Farmer once said, “They know. Oh, you know they know.”

Now, it is also true that most of the opinions we have are not original. Mostly, we just parrot other people’s opinions that our sources are repeating from other sources that are sourced somewhere in the same mysterious underworld where dirty jokes come from. For example, it’s likely that we all have some political opinion that a pithy, made-up quote from Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, or Nelson Mandela will back up. As Lincoln himself once said, “There are two things everybody has…” Again, I can’t complete the sentence.

You may have noticed that I have not mentioned religion. That’s because Faith is a special case. Our own religious beliefs are just that, beliefs deeply held—a whole different basket of loaves and fishes. Our creeds are beyond any mere earthly opinion, except perhaps what we thought about last week’s sermon. We do, however, have any number of opinions about other people’s religions because…well, just because.

You may have also noticed that I have not mentioned “facts.” There is a simple explanation for that. When it comes to opinions, “facts” don’t matter. They are troublesome things that, most of the time, don’t fit comfortably into our mental pockets. Besides when my grandfather said, “There are two things everybody has…” trust me, he was stating a fact.

Anyway, that’s my opinion. Omaha Magazine

OtisXII

Sharing Omaha

June 16, 2015 by

This article appeared in in the summer 2015 issue of B2B.

Of the 318 million U.S. citizens, can you venture to guess how many use social media? The answer came at a recent eTourism conference—67% of us in the U.S. are using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media platforms to connect with our friends, family, and favorite products. What is interesting for tourism is that most people use social media to brag about their vacations, and, as the official agency in charge of inspiring visitors to travel to Omaha, we love that.

Currently the Visit Omaha Facebook page has nearly 100,000 followers. Facebook provides the Omaha Convention and Visitors Bureau (OCVB) with a platform to promote Omaha, and it allows residents and visitors to easily share Omaha’s story with even more people. The OCVB social media strategy is simple—showcase Omaha as a visitor destination, or, in other words, inform people why Omaha is worth the trip. And more people are spreading that message than ever before—thanks to Visit Omaha followers, 6.6 million Facebook users were exposed to the Visit Omaha message in 2014.

Two-thirds of Visit Omaha’s Facebook fans reside outside the metro-Omaha area. In fact, the page has fans from 44 different countries, including Germany, Italy, and India. Visit Omaha fans range in age from 13 to 65-plus, and the majority of them are women (62%).

The Visit Omaha social media presence extends to a number of other platforms, including Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and YouTube.

Visit Omaha also uses creative ways to engage and encourage the social media audience to share Omaha’s story. One way is with the Omaha Weekend Insta-map, which invites visitors and locals to take pictures of their Omaha experiences and share the photos with us. All they have to do is tag their photos on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #OmahaWeekend, and those photos will automatically populate the Insta-map. And stop by the Omaha Visitors Center to take advantage of our photo booth. Guests can take fun Omaha-themed selfies in our iSnap photo booth and instantly post them to Facebook and Twitter. To date, 1,223 people have shared their photos with more than 112,000 of their friends and family.

You are invited to join the conversation and help tell Omaha’s story – just use #OmahaWeekend on your favorite social media platform. Happy sharing!

Deb Ward

Deb Ward is the director of marketing/communications, Omaha Convention and Visitor’s Bureau

Spaghetti Toes

March 19, 2015 by
Photography by Keith Binder

As a parent, you’ve probably appreciated (and not appreciated) the absolute honesty that often escapes your child’s mouth. Frankness aside, kids also tend to say some hilarious things. Martin Bruckner’s daughter, Harper, 3, is no exception.

In early 2014, Bruckner, his wife Michelle, and their daughter were having dinner when he overheard his wife exclaim to Harper, “Please don’t put spaghetti between your toes.” That same night, as Bruckner was giving his daughter her evening bath, he found himself asking her, “Did you drop your cheese in the tub again?” From that point on, he decided it would be worthwhile to take note of all of the absurd utterances around his house. He knew that one day, he his wife and their child could all look back and have a good laugh.

Bruckner began to create graphics based on things he wrote down, eventually starting Tumblr and Facebook accounts to share them with friends, family, and parents around the world. “Pretty much the first day I started the Facebook and Tumblr pages I had parents replying to me with the things their children say to them,” he chuckles. Bruckner admits that it isn’t just the locals that find things he, his wife, and his daughter say funny. In fact, he has gotten messages from as far away as Australia.

While Spaghetti Toes started out innocently enough, it seems to be gaining steam as Harper ages. Bruckner states that while his daughter is a newer conversationalist, the things she says only get funnier with age. “Her vocabulary is getting bigger and stronger but she’s still having a hard time getting certain things to be in the correct context, which in turn makes them hilarious,” he says. This

is confirmed with nothing more than a cursory glance through his website.
The graphics he has created have started to garner some national attention, getting picked up by websites such as BuzzFeed and The Chive. Additionally, Bruckner has started to fulfill custom orders and recently completed two such requests for a woman in Canada. Nonetheless, Bruckner remains encouraged by the local scene, claiming Omaha’s creatives are extremely supportive while locals are incredibly kind.

The attention his sites have garnered feels good, Bruckner says. Nonetheless, he finds that he is more drawn to the long-term payoff that they will have. “I started this as a way to document my daughter’s life while she’s little and I’m having an incredible time doing it,” he shares. In fact, his own mother, inspired by what her son was doing, went digging for books that she kept on Bruckner and his siblings when they were young. Bruckner hopes to use it to create additional graphics for his mom and five sisters. “I’ve gotten message after message after message from parents and I think everyone is in agreement as far as their children saying incredible, silly, ridiculous, and disgusting things,” he adds. “I say things daily that I never thought I’d say.” We’re sure that every parent out there can relate.

OMag-Picks-1-19-2015-9--small

Photo Finished

January 16, 2015 by and

I attempted to snap a candid picture of my kids on the way to school because they had just requested silence in the car so that they could read. (Did I just hear that correctly?) I wanted a rare photo of them reading instead of surfing their phones. At first, I thought they were joking. It wouldn’t last to the first stop light. But five minutes into the deafening silence, I figured that I should capture this bizarre, unnatural phenomenon for posterity and Facebook.

But Lucy caught me and begged me not to take the picture. She knew I’d post it on Facebook. Duh, why else would I take a picture?

I used to scrapbook. But then social media and the digital age came along. For the record, social media is a much cheaper and lazier way to document my family’s every move. Suddenly printing pictures to glue into a paper book seemed like a very quaint, overly labor-intensive 1950s thing to do.

I’ve noticed my kids thumbing through their scrapbooks lately. They like the idea of perusing photos and remembering the good ole days and knowing that this collective document is a unique family artifact. Maybe they show a select few elite visitors during a quiet moment of reflection; maybe they don’t. It’s up to them.

They are starting to protest that 500 of my closest friends saw them eating cereal with a very clever caption.

Reality slaps me in the face and I remember our rule No. 2 of social media: Never post a picture of someone else without their approval. The rules are for the kids, of course, but maybe not. Perhaps this is one parents should make a priority to live by.

So, instead of a New Year’s Resolution: I’m starting a revolution. Take pictures of my kids for scrapbooks or picture frames only. I’m challenging us all to a face-free social media. It’ll require
more creativity and, I think, change things up for the better while respecting our kids’ and those innocent bystanders by them. Facebook posts will be dedicated to very clever words.
Think you can do it?

I tell Max and Lucy about my big idea. They hold a stare, petrified of the consequences of rolling their eyes at me. It’d make a great picture…for a scrapbook, of course.

iStock_000025154061_Large

Faith, Friends, and Facebook

January 7, 2015 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Popular singer-actress Camille Metoyer Moten is a fun-loving, free-spirited soldier of faith.

That faith got tested starting with an April 2012 breast cancer diagnosis. After treatments and surgeries over two years she gratefully proclaims, “I am healed.” Anyone unfamiliar with her spiritual side before discovered it once she began posting positive, faith-filled Facebook messages about her odyssey and ultimate healing, which she attributes to a Higher Power.

Her frequent “Fabulous Cancer-Free Babe” posts gained a loyal following. Many “Facebook Prayer Warriors” commented on her at-once intimate, inspirational, and humorous musings. One follower quipped, “Your posts are like going to church at the Funny Bone.”

Metoyer Moten decided cancer was an experience she couldn’t deny.

“When you perform, your whole thing is pulling people into this artistic moment with you,” she says. “When I got the cancer and started posting about it I thought, ‘Well, this is my song, this is the song I have right now and I want people to feel everything I’m feeling, the good parts and the bad parts.’ And at the end I want them to see the glory of God in it.”

The humor, too. She described the asymmetry of her reconstructed breasts. While losing and regaining hair she called her bald head “Nicki MiNoggin.” Once patches of growth came back it was “Chia Rivera.” She’s since dubbed her swept-back scraggle, “Frederick Douglass.”

“I wrote it as I saw it, Metoyer Moten adds. “If it struck me funny, that’s what it was. I will talk about anything, I just will. I’m just like this open book.”

That extended to shares about weight gain and radiation burns.

Mainly, she was a vehicle for loving affirmations in a communal space.

What support most touched her?

“Probably just the amount of prayer,” says Metoyer Moten, whose husband, Michael Moten, heads One Way Ministry. “Every time I said, ‘Please pray,’ there were people right there, and sometimes they would put their prayer right on the post, which was awesome. Some of the encouraging things they would say were really special. The Facebook people really did help to keep me lifted and encouraged and they said I did the same for them.

“It almost never failed that there were things I read I needed to hear. We had this beautiful circle going of building each other up.”

The sharing didn’t stop at social media exchanges.

“The thing I loved were the personal notes I got from people asking me to write to loved ones going through something, and I wrote to them just to encourage them because that was the whole purpose—to tell people who you go to in time of trouble.”

She’s now writing a book from her Facebook posts.

“My goal is to encourage people and to glorify God and to talk about how social media can be a meaningful thing.”

Camille, being Camille, went beyond virtual sharing to invite Facebook friends, all 2,000-plus of them, to “chemo parties” at Methodist Estabrook Cancer Center. “I usually had about 12 to 15 people. The nurses were very sweet because sometimes we’d get too loud. Other patients sometimes joined the party, which was kind of my point, to liven it up. We just had a ball.”

It wasn’t all frivolity.

“We would pray on the chemo machine that the chemo would affect only the cancer cells and leave the good cells alone. Once, a woman rolled her machine over for us to lay hands on hers as well. It was just a beautiful testimony.”

Cancer didn’t stop Metoyer Moten from cabaret singing or acting

“Even though I had a little harder time every now and again,” she says, “it didn’t stop me from doing anything.”

She even believes she came out of it a better performer.

“I’m not a very emotional person,” she continues, “but sometimes to connect spiritually you have to have a little more emotion involved. I think now the stuff I’m doing on stage is better because I think I’ve connected to myself better emotionally. I think I had stuffed things down a long time ago. This made me realize it’s okay to have some emotions.”

Fellow performers David Murphy and Jill Anderson walked with her on her journey. Now that they’re battling their own health crises (Murphy’s vision problems and Anderson’s MS), Metoyer Moten is there for them.

She’s glad her saga helps others but doesn’t want cancer to define her.

“A long time ago I decided there’s no one thing that’s the sum total of your entire life,” she says. “I’m happy to talk about what God did for me during this experience, but I’m not going to dwell on the cancer bit forever. I don’t want people to look at me and say, ‘Cancer.’ I want them to look at me and say, ‘Healthy…healed.’”