How Mad Men Made Me

I’ve recently started watching old episodes of Mad Men. One of my all-time favourite TV shows. It is a show based in the 1960’s looking at the lives of advertising executives who work on Madison Avenue in New York City and seeks to dissect life in that era. These ad men coined themselves ‘Mad Men’. As Malcolm Gladwell put it in his book, The Tipping Point, ‘The sixties were the golden age of Madison Avenue”.

It’s one of those series that is hard to digest – especially with the incredibly blatant sexism, the abuse of women, alcohol, narcotics and status. The level of disrespect towards women, let alone black people, was grotesque and sadly, a socially accepted norm.

So why would I say something like this ‘made me’? Well, with regards to the above, I think Matthew Weiner (the show’s creator) brilliantly exposed the kind of oppression that existed and how such norms began to evolve. He, along with his team, successfully portrayed some of the misconceptions that were prevalent during that era. For example, how pregnant women were OK to smoke disregarding the health of their children; or how, a day at the park ended with families disposing all their litter on the lawn for someone else to pick up. Such disregard for things we are so conscious about these days.

Aside from the obvious reasons to love the show which include the dashing Don Draper, the delectable 60’s fashion, and the impeccably written script, Mad Men sparked a discussion and debate in my life. One to do with my purpose and what I hoped my career would become.

I was intrigued by Don’s genius in spite of his seemingly dark, mysterious and melancholic demeanor. Then there was Peggy Olson. In a world literally run by men, she chose to pursue her desire to be more than a secretary. Her perseverance saw her becoming a female copywriter at a time when it was not plausible. Shout out to Freddie Rumpson & Don for helping her navigate that.

You see, since I was a kid, I have always been fascinated with the advertising industry. I have memories of being a child driving in the car with my mom, pointing out different adverts and how they did or didn’t work. Thanks to life, I was taken on a roller-coaster of uncertainty for a number of years where I was unsure about what exactly I wanted to do or be. I lost my sense of direction for a while, but as I continued to watch the show, the enthusiasm was re-ignited. I knew I wanted to be a Creative Director of some sort. How and what, I was not sure?

Photo Cred: Shutterstock

Photo Cred: Shutterstock

I have grappled with this for a while now, and I thankfully continue to do so. Now I find myself working in the advertising industry. Are my questions answered? Not entirely. But I definitely know I am moving along the right path. My calling as it were and I thank God that He didn’t let me lose hope. I believe in life, there are certain moments that make you click or that start up something within you. For me, it came in the form of a TV series that has done incredibly well. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but it has great significance for me.

Shout-out to all the artists, creators, dreamers, writers and visionaries out there. It is you who allow us to dream and strive to be who we were meant to be.

AMC's Mad Men

AMC’s Mad Men

Peggy Olson & Don Draper

Peggy Olson & Don Draper

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Nature’s Valley Views

In April this year, I was fortunate to go for a short holiday with friends to Nature’s Valley, Western Cape. Situated along the scenic Garden Route, this little village is a beauty to stumble upon with stunning views of the Indian Ocean in the forefront and the Tsitsikamma Mountains forming the backdrop.

As I previously mentioned, being out in nature is one of the ways I experience God. I get a strong sense of His majesty and presence as I look out at His wondrous creations.

During the course of our trip, we managed to visit Plettenberg Bay with it’s gorgeous beach, stunning architecture and lovely touristy things to do along the way. Speaking of which, we visited the Market On Main  and stumbled upon a small t-shirt making stall. The owner, a tiny Chinese man who doesn’t really speak English but is very proficient in using his body language to explain himself & is super sweet while he’s at it, creates t-shirts out of pictures you take on his machine. We, of course, hopped onto that selfie t-shirts bandwagon and had a hilarious time creating our own memorabilia.

We also took a drive to Bloukrans Bridge where many adventure junkies from across the globe take the plunge into the Bloukrans River valley. We chose to watch the bungy jumping and not take part. Taking part was definitely not on the cards for us.

Here are a few visuals of a place that left me so inspired. I hope it will inspire you too.

The Pen Freeze

No, I did not somehow forget my pen in the freezer, though I might as well have. There is the so-called writer’s block. What I have been suffering from is a couple levels above that. A fear of the pen so to speak. A term known as ‘graphophobia’.

It’s been about 9 months since I published a post. This was not for lack of words or things to say. I made several attempts to start a post. The words were not really flowing, but that wasn’t the real deterrent. I have had writer’s block many times before. This was something else.

I was doubting myself. Did I really think I had something of value to say? Is mine a voice worth hearing? Do I have what it takes to be a writer? All these questions plagued me. I think it somewhat had to do with where I was in my life. A place of change where I was questioning a lot and instead of penning that confusion down, I allowed it to silence my voice. I thought it weird that as someone who had written many posts before, I would have such a great fear, but to my comfort, I read up on the fear of writing, and Clair De Boer’s ‘The Secret Fear Of Every Writer’ gave me some consolation. I was not alone and it is ‘normal’ to experience this.

When did I decide to face that fear, you might ask? For one, my sister started a blog that she had dreamt of and been planning for for over a year. Her courage inspired me and I have been witnessing her go from strength to strength as she tells the story of the black African Woman.

The moment I can clearly recall when I decided to pick up my pen in spite of where I was in my life, was a day I was walking and I looked up to see a bird perched on a power line. I don’t know what exactly happened, but it was God speaking to me. He was saying, “Look up. I am here. And no matter where you are, it will all be alright.” That little birdie perched on those wires relayed a powerful message to me to always seek inspiration and no matter what, look up because there is more to life than my current situation.

The little birdie that inspired me

The little birdie that inspired me

So I thought it only fitting to write about this – perhaps someone out there can understand what it means to be there. To be at a place of uncertainty where you question your abilities and the things you thought you were good at. Where you question that you have something valuable to add.

I salute all the writers out there who are persistent in their craft no matter the season in their life. My dream is to continue to speak as long as I have something of value to say, no matter what. And no matter what, to constantly seek inspiration.