Life doesn’t play out like you read in fairytale books or see in the movies. You cannot be inert waiting for things to happen. There’s work involved in creating a beautiful life for yourself. There were many times that I wished I’d run the other way when I met my husband, and yet I have been with him for 43 years because, thank the goddess, I knew that truth in my bones.
As part of my series about “authors who are making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Gloria Squitiro.
Gloria Squitiro has a bachelor’s degree in psychology. She is unintentionally published in Harper’s Magazine and is the author of the bestselling May Cause Drowsiness and Blurred Vision: The Side Effects of Bravery, the first in the three-book C’mon Funk Memoir Series. She has been married to Mark Funkhouser for forty-plus long-ass years. It seems Gloria’s mission in life is to make every other man on Earth grateful he’s not married to her.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
I came into this world knowing things. I don’t know how I knew, only that I did. This didn’t go over so well in my New York Italian home. Girls in my family didn’t get to have a voice, and they certainly didn’t know things. Only special people knew things. Special, meaning males.
It has taken me a lifetime of therapy to untangle my childhood. To overcome my superstitions. To release my anxiety born from not being heard. To cope with insecurities from unmet emotional needs. To free myself of self- doubt.
When you were younger, was there a book you read that inspired you to take action or changed your life? Can you share a story about that?
Books, period, changed my life. I remember in 6th grade, reading a book in class and being so engrossed that I didn’t realize I was coughing until the teacher said, “Gloria, do you need to go out to the fountain and get a drink of water?” My immediate response was no because I didn’t know I had a problem until she brought it to my attention. But already the type to pounce on an opportunity to get out of the confines of the classroom, I fake-coughed a few more times and said, “Yes, maybe I should go get a drink.” I could see the teacher rolling her eyes as I beat it out the door.
It has been said that our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you first started? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I kept in touch with family, friends, and my birth students, sending a yearly holiday newsletter. One year, the stepfather of one of my doula clients, Rush, a creative writing professor at the Kansas City Art Institute, knocked at my door with the current year’s installment in hand, saying my newsletter was the funniest thing he’d ever read and that I needed to write a book. I couldn’t believe that someone who didn’t know me thought my newsletter was funny, like who would want to read that boring shit? Anyway, I listened kindly and didn’t give the matter a second thought. I never had any aspirations to be a writer, nor did I think I was “smart” enough to be one.
The same thing happened many years in a row.
Rush would knock on my door with the latest newsletter and, kind of forcefully, encourage me to write a book. If it were Funk who had welcomed Rush in, he’d thank the man for stopping by and would relay the message to me later that day. The last time Rush came by, I finally exclaimed, “But Rush, I’m no writer! I’ve never even taken the first class!” Rush said I should never consider it because education would destroy my “voice.”
So, now that I’ve given you the background, here’s the funniest story about starting out as a writer.
We moved to DC in 2011. Once I settled into my new life, I joined a writer’s group just to meet new people. With Rush’s warning in mind, I cockily walked in the first night, arms waving in the air, saying, “Don’t give me any advice! I’m only here looking for friends.” I will be forever grateful to that group of women for being kind, despite my boorish ways and for helping put some meat on my bones. Lord knows I didn’t need extra weight on my body, but my first book surely did.
The lessons learned. From Rush, that there was a writer in me. My writer’s group taught me to be a bit more humble.
Can you describe how you aim to make a significant social impact with your book?
The impact I’m hoping to make:
- If a chickenshit like me can overcome anxiety and live a bigger, more carefree life, others can also find their strength, power, connection, and purpose and become a New and Better Them!
- If you don’t reach for your dreams, no matter how pie-in-the-sky they may seem to others, then who will reach there for you? I hope to encourage others to dream big and go tits to the world pursuing that dream, never allowing logistics to get in the way of seeing it through
- I had no political experience whatsoever, yet I helped my husband run and win a mayoral race in a significantly large city. I hope to motivate others to help finish the revolution that was started in the ’60s. To try their hand at running a grassroots campaign, despite inexperience. Because Lord knows, we really need that right now. Who among us wants the 1 percent to continue running our country?
- For me, though I wasn’t interested in politics, in the end, the campaign wasn’t any different from what I was already used to, “The politics of giving birth in America, of being a woman in our country, even the politics of living within a family. All it took was planning and organizing. What mom isn’t good at that?”
- To help other women remember, “Women are so sensual, powerful, and underrated.”
- In reading my story, I hope that others will find comfort, encouragement, and humor in the telling — enough to make their own wade through the muck easier. And if they should happen to recognize themselves within the pages of my books, my most fervent wish is that they’ll be reassured, knowing they are not alone
- I hope to inspire anyone who is like me — afraid of their own shadow, or, as my husband Funk says, is “a skydiver afraid of heights” — to reach for brave and grab the brass ring despite their throat-clenching fear.
- At sixty-four years old, in many ways, I still behave like a child. Each day my eyes blink awake feels like Christmas morning. I can’t wait to see what the new day will bring. In this case, I can’t wait to see if my book provided a laugh or two — more than anything else, that’s what I’m hoping it will do. Offer a bit of relief at the end of the reader’s day
- I’m beside myself to know if I’ve extended my reach beyond my childbirth classes. Have I inspired any women to claim their power? Have I helped to make the word family an important part of America’s vocabulary again?
- I hope to encourage others not to back down in the face of all things incomprehensible. Giving up is easy. Toughing it out is by far the hardest.
Can you share with us the most interesting story that you shared in your book?
Well, I don’t know if this is the most interesting story, but it is one of the funniest.
Campaigns are full-on all the time. There are no breaks. It doesn’t matter how tired you are, how grouchy you are, or how much you don’t like working with someone. You must keep going.
In terms of not liking to work with a particular personality, such was the case with Britt and most of the women at the campaign’s headquarters. Britt was condescending as hell to women, and I doubt he even knew that he was.
Here’s a story involving Britt and one of the women volunteers (Betty Lou) who didn’t take any shit from him. Here, Betty Lou is telling me about an incident that happened before I had come into the trailer for the day (the trailer is where we housed the headquarters).
“The minute she heard me tinkle Spring’s doorbells, Betty Lou rushed to the lobby to meet me, burning with news. She found me squatting on the floor in a posture that was similar to a woman pushing a baby out. I groaned like a woman in labor, cursing the buckled-up carpet for tripping me and causing my boxful of just-recorded receipts to fly all over the room. I’d done the bookkeeping work at home in order to spend some time there with my son. Besides, it was next to impossible to enter data accurately with all the distractions around the headquarters. It had felt so good to slash that item off my to-do list, and now I had to reorganize all the receipts before I could hand them off to the CPA.
Hearing me curse our ghetto headquarters, Betty Lou said, “What are you doing ?”
I thought it was obvious what I was doing, so I didn’t say anything. I just continued fuming, gathering up the scattered receipts. But once I looked up and saw her eyes sparking like mad, curiosity overtook my dark mood.
“Britt just caught Maria piddling.”
“What do you mean?”
“You know those stacks of papers piled on the floor behind his desk?” “Yeah.”
“Well, Maria just used one for an outhouse.”
“Oh, shit,” I whispered, horrified by the image.
“No, it was number one.”
Startled by the miscommunication, I said, “Betty Lou, what I meant was, that’s a problem.”
“Not really. Although Britt’s damn mad about it.”
“Mad? Really? Oh my God, that’s too funny,” I said, laughing, matching the glee gushing from her.
“I know. He’s been raging about it all morning.
“After he caught Maria in the act, he checked the other papers back there. They were dry, but most were stained yellow, so apparently, Maria’s been using his office for a long time.”
My receipts now back in my box; I picked myself up off the grimy carpet and said, “I was wondering why there hasn’t been much pee on the newspapers in my office. I thought maybe she’d already trained herself.”
“Well, now you know,” Betty Lou said with delight.
The two of us stood close, whispering the rest of the story so Britt wouldn’t overhear.
“Are you sure he’s mad or is he just using that voice he gets when he talks to women?”
“No, Gloria, he’s really mad.”
“Oh my God, no!” I said, upset again, Maria being my responsibility and all. And then human nature took over. I got defensive from being in the wrong.
And, worse, from thinking about the apology I would have to extend to Britt. And, worse yet, resentful about why this was my problem and not Funk’s.
“Oh, whatever. It serves him right for keeping his things on the floor. This operation may be low rent, but there are plenty of cabinets in his office he could use to store his papers. There’s no reason to have the place looking like a mess. It’s a bad reflection on Funk.”
Betty Lou replied bluntly, “I don’t know about it being a bad reflection, but I love that Maria did that to him of all people. Dogs are smart that way, you know.”
What was the “aha moment” or series of events that made you decide to bring your message to the greater world? Can you share a story about that?
I never set out to be a writer. I had a lifelong dream of experiencing Europe for a summer with my family, yet there was no money to fund the trip. It turns out, I helped my husband win a grant to fund his dream, which in turn helped me realize my dream.
Money issues aside, the only problem remaining was that, at the time, I was afraid of leaving home and also afraid to fly.
Of my fear of flying, I took a boat to Europe.
And for my fear of leaving home, all I could think to do for that was to perform a ritual in my backyard where I prayed for strength and courage. While I was at it, I asked the gods to please help me grow up. Told them I was done living in a fetal position. It worked. I stepped off the ship well on the way to becoming the New and Better Me.
So, back to the question. On the ship, I kept a travel journal so my kids could remember our big adventure. Before long, my words turned into quotes, and those quotes became this series.
Both books took me a long time to write. Halfway through, I noticed a voice in the back of my head that said my books would be a “hit.” That’s when I realized that I was likely channeling the information to write down. In fact, I was always surprised to see what was being written on my computer screen. It was as if the words were not my own; I was the first reader of the series.
Without sharing specific names, can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?
The “riffraff” of Kansas City, whose needs had never been considered before, suddenly had a voice and a seat at the table.
Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?
- The lower 99% needs to run for office, regardless of experience
- People need to stop being afraid of talking about the elephant in the room. The loss of intimacy with friends and family is making many people lonely, and in turn, some have gotten really mean
- Don’t let logistics get in the way of actualizing a dream. If you worry about how you’ll get to where you want to go, you’ll likely never take the first step
How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?
It’s easy to define Leadership. Gather your tits about you and speak truth to power. Straddling the fence is the opposite of leadership.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started,” and why? Please share a story or example for each.
I don’t understand if the question relates to first starting to write or running a campaign. So I’ll just give you five things that I wish someone had told me about life in general
1 . Life doesn’t play out like you read in fairytale books or see in the movies. You cannot be inert waiting for things to happen. There’s work involved in creating a beautiful life for yourself. There were many times that I wished I’d run the other way when I met my husband, and yet I have been with him for 43 years because, thank the goddess, I knew that truth in my bones.
The story: I was drawn to Funk upon first meeting him because he helped decipher one of my dreams. That’s the last time the bastard I call husband ever stepped into the existential areas I love talking about. We are complete opposites, but we’ve made a lot of magic together
2 . Victimhood gets you nowhere. It is not the path to happiness.
The story: I was awakened to this truth when my Japanese acupuncturist told me that I needed to be grateful to my parents for giving me life. That I needed to give and expect nothing from them in return. This unwanted advice helped me stop feeling like a chump for remaining loyal to my family. Now that they are gone, I have no regrets about what I did or didn’t do, and that’s a nice place to be
3 . If you have a big personality, many people will enjoy you for it, and many will want to dim your light.
The story: I didn’t know I had a big persona until my husband took office and the media focused on me instead of the majority-woman-elected council. Instead of those women helping raise the vibration for women in general, they fed the media “scandals” about me to try to get themselves in the limelight
4 . Anyone can make magic.
The story: I helped my husband make magic by working my ass off to get him elected, never once believing that he wouldn’t be mayor. And just recently, I made magic for myself by having a watercolor made of my desire to own land in Hawaii and build an artist retreat and just putting that out there like that created a goddamn f-ing miracle
5 . It’s imperative to connect with your ancestors. Everything you are is only made possible by the hardships they experienced and overcame in their lifetime.
The story: I was terrified when I learned that my mom had a stroke. The first I ever became aware of my ancestors was when I was driving from New Orleans to what would turn out to be my mother’s deathbed in Florida. I went from terrified to feeling completely secure and protected. For the first time in my life, I also felt completely adored. It was through my ancestor’s presence that I had the tits to call time for my mother. I basically killed my mother
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
- “There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.” — Madeleine Albright. For me, this quote relates to how not one woman of power took a public stand to stop the media abuse directed at me while my husband was mayor. In the end, as one feminist reporter told me, there were more than 500 “hit” pieces done about me
- “She remembered who she was, and the game changed.” — Lalah Delia. I have been in therapy most of my life, trying to reach for peace, joy, and calm. Finally, at 64 years old, after an unimaginable situation occurred, I now understand how strong I am
- I hate to use a male quote, but I love this one, “If you make others happy, you’ll be happy. If you make others unhappy, you’ll be miserable.” — Dalai Lama. For me, I try to step with kindness in everything I do. I may not always achieve that, but it is my intention to do so. Though I’ve had a hell of a time with anxiety, if I look at my life, there’ve been many ups and downs, but the line to happiness continues to rise
- “I matter. You matter. We matter.” — I said that because it’s true
Is there a person in the world or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
Like millions of other people, I would love to have breakfast with the Grateful Dead, but only if I could feel like it was natural to be with them
How can our readers further follow your work online?
This was very meaningful; thank you so much. We wish you only continued success with your great work!
Social Impact Authors: How & Why Author Gloria Squitiro Is Helping To Change Our World was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.