Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga teaches us about listening...


By John R. Nocero & Nicole M. Palmer

 The VIBE: Our most open, honest and REAL.

John: Tell me somethin' girl; Are you happy in this modern world? Or do you need more? Is there somethin' else you're searchin' for? I'm falling; In all the good times I find myself longin' for change. And in the bad times I fear myself. That’s how Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga start “Shallow." We are listening.

 According to Lady Gaga, the song has a deeper meaning. She explains: “We are living in a time where there’s so much conversation about women’s voices being heard... Men listening to those voices. And also, men not listening to those voices.: To her, the beauty and hope in "Shallow" is that men will listen to women and vice versa: "That conversation is what makes the song successful and beautiful and why people cry when they hear it. It’s because that man and woman connect, and they are listening to each other."

And I realize now that I do – I listen to the most important person in my world, my wife Kelly. When I think back on the 14 years we have spent together, my emotions run the gamut – pride in who she is, how strong she is, the fact that I can call her my wife, she rolls through life with me and I could not be more grateful; embarrassment – some of the things I did to her, I have no business being forgiven for – but yet she forgave me. She is stronger than me, more emotionally centered than I am, possibly more disciplined, and that’s okay – I feed off that. And finally there is gratitude. If I am lucky, I will get to spend 40 more years or more with her. I can only imagine what it will be like to grow old with her, looking back with pride and love on the memories we created.

More men are starting to feel this way and coming out and speaking about being better MEN, such as Terry Crews, who wants to dismantle toxic masculinity — by sharing his own experience with it onstage at the 2019 MAKERS conference this Friday. “I was raised by toxic masculinity,” the Brooklyn 99 star said. Crews's own words: “My earliest memory, I probably was about 4 or 5, when the most vivid memories was watching my father punch my mother in the face as hard as he could. "It was all a part of my young culture. It was like you weren’t even a man until you slept with at least 10 women, used them, abuse them and throw them away, lie to them, tell them that you love them and walk away."

Crews also felt pressure to get strong as a young man. “I had to get stronger than you. The rules of the toxic gang is literally the bench press, it’s ridiculous. It’s like determining whoever gets to run everything, you bench-press the most, you get to run the world. But the ridiculous part about that is that most of these people aren’t smart,” he said. “So, the problem is you have a bunch of idiots who are very strong determining what goes on.”

I am not an idiot. I am hurting a bit right now, but hurting means I am changing, and that is for the better. I know I am not strong because I can do 50 chinups in a row or 500 pushups. That means nothing. Being a great man does. That's where I want to go.

Tell me somethin' Nicole; Are you happy in this modern world? Or do you need more? Is there somethin' else you're searchin' for? I'm falling; In all the good times I find myself longin' for change; And in the bad times I fear myself. You are a devoted mom, wife, clinical research administrator, aspiring mobile home park investor, and now blogger. Do you need more and what is your thought on toxic masculinity?

Nicole: Have you ever found a person that you could be 100% honest with? The person you sit down, stare them in the eyes, and tell them exactly what is in your mind and they listen to you. Where you listen to their feedback as well and you are both honest with one another. It’s about two people being honest with themselves and with others and respecting one another. It may be for a moment or for a lifetime.

I grew up in a toxic masculinity household. I learned very early on that silence is golden. My older sister was the rebel and loved to talk back and test the limits with my father. I learned through her what “not to do.” I am not an angel by any means, but I knew that I never wanted to be hit by the belt. There were attempts for sure, but I was quick, and he couldn’t get me if I hid underneath the bed and crawled to the farthest corner. He put the capital F in FEAR. My father taught me to learn through osmosis and not ask questions.

When I was 16 my parents divorced, and I lived with my Dad. The divorce and raising a teenager soften him up a bit. I can vividly remember this one time when my Dad was frustrated with me, because of my reserved personality. He actually vocalized it instead of using his actions. We were facing eye to eye and there was a moment of truth and honesty between ourselves. I had a difficult time, sputtering out my words to his question because I didn’t know what the repercussions would be. I was forcing back the tears for as long as I could. I hate to show emotion, because that was the way I was raised. Thinking about this exact moment, as I sit here and recall it, is bringing tears to my eyes, but still I refuse to let them fall. The reality is, my father was frustrated with me for not being able to have an open and honest relationship with him, however, he failed to recognize until this very moment that he instilled this in me. When I communicated this with him, he was a deer in headlights. The lightbulb came on. I spoke to him in a way that he understood and I wasn’t going to be punished for speaking my mind, whether he agreed with me or not.

This was the day my father and I decided to be honest with one another.

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