Never under-estimate the story-telling power of a French fry

Never under-estimate the story-telling power of a French fry

Sharing our stories can assist self-validation in surprising and enriching ways. The unlikely hero in this story is a French fry.

Diarist friend Karyn was out shopping, browsing in various stores, when a little bird on a small, white wooden plaque caught her eye. It came with a message: Today I will be happier than a bird with a French fry!

Karyn thought: I love this; I am going to get it for June. She felt very happy, although she wondered: What is June going to do with this?

When I met Karyn a few days later, she was intending to present this small gift as a surprise towards the end of our visit. However she began to change her mind when I opened our conversation by eagerly sharing something too, which also involved a French fry. She listened as I enthusiastically described a new book, a story of survival, healing and much more –- Large Fry, Small Fry, Medium Orange – by Holly Curtis.

I was recommending Holly’s story as an example of the empowering and liberating outcome that can occur through persevering not only in healing from an eating disorder and other life challenges, but then taking the next step and making the dream of ‘telling my story to help others’ come true. I showed Holly’s book cover to Karyn, describing the significance behind the book title and illustration. Unbeknown to me, Karyn’s heart was beginning to jump up and down.

She suddenly could contain herself no longer, slipping her hand in her shoulder bag and withdrawing a small brown parcel. She passed the package across the table saying: You have to open this! Now! Karyn is rarely so forthright so I immediately began to open the brown paper package.

Karyn had more instructions.

You must send this on to Holly, she said. By now I was very curious but as I lifted the small plaque from its wrappings and read its message, I felt excited too. We had each arrived for our catch-up with the same word, “fry”, on our mind. We each had a story for different reasons to share about this three-letter word. How powerful is that, I thought.

We discussed this little word, a word that is often filled with dread and the bane of anyone with an eating disorder. The ”fry” was suddenly a star, a little story hero. We were both excited at how the humble “fry” had portrayed and provided an illustration of how, through small acts of sharing and of kindness, great things can happen.

The happiness and validation that Karyn felt in wrapping the little bird with the French fry for me, and the happiness I felt in sharing the story about Large Fry, Small Fry, Medium Orange with Karyn, was multiplying. Time and time again, I witness and experience such tiny doses of validation as a reward for seemingly small acts that mean so very much.

Karyn calls these rewards little miracles because they occur unexpectedly; they come only when you are not looking. Such blessings come in many forms; they validate, assure us like a pat on the pack that we are doing okay, we are worthwhile beings; they keep us going.

Holly, Karyn and I all have experienced the eating disorder anorexia nervosa. We each have found that when we bravely do something that confirms, validates and reflects authentic self, when we do what feels right and trust our innate self and our first true thought, then this is when these little surprise awards appear, as if to say ‘well done, you are traveling in the right direction; we will push aside the next boulder on your healing path for you’. And recovery takes a leap forward.

Karyn’s initial thought was that she would be happy if I hung the little bird in my bathroom, but to learn of Holly’s book title and the story behind it, made her heart sing, and this is why she gushed: You must send this on to Holly. Karyn had not heard of Holly before but immediately she knew this gift was for her. I share this story to illustrate how the layers and depth of the love, the joy, the validation and self-confirmation increase through sharing our stories. As I write, the little plaque is soaring, with its message relating to bird and book, across the ocean from Australia to Holly in the United States and, through this diary entry, is spreading to you, too.

Such is the power of story-telling.

Do you have a story of serendipity to share? I encourage you to contact me, and share through the comment section below.

First, Holly shares some insights upon the release of her memoir, Large Fry, Small Fry, Medium Orange:

Revealing the ‘best kept’ private secret

An interview with Holly Curtis
• What was your motivation for writing your story?

I wrote my memoir to help sufferers feel totally understood and to inspire them to keep fighting for their recovery. I always wanted families, friends and loved ones to know the mindset of an eating disorder individual so they could create the best environment and relationship to help the sufferer achieve recovery.
• How did you feel while writing your book? Best time? Worst time?
I felt my best and most excited about writing my book when I wrote out the important boundaries that need to be set between a sufferer and their loved ones so not to trigger them or shame them. I felt my worst and most anxious when I recalled the darkest points of my eating disorder. It made me feel deeply sad for that little girl.
• What has been the outcome since releasing your book?
The outcome of releasing my book has been extraordinary for me. I have always lived a very public life, yet never shared my best kept private secret … my battle with a life threatening eating disorder. I put my memoir out in highly exposed venues and have received overwhelmingly glowing reviews of my bravery, honesty, tenacity, survivability and my undying heart that chose love to heal my pain. Most important I am receiving so much gratitude from current sufferers who really identify with my memoir and my story helps their loved ones and friends understand their eating disorder struggle so much more.

  • What have you learnt through the process of writing your story?
    Writing my memoir has affirmed my recovery and that I can revisit my painful past and feel such gratitude for all the love and amazing things that have happened in my life since then. I actually experienced sadness then immediate joy when writing and remembering that sad little I was because now I had so many happy things to tell her.
  • What resources/guidance/inspiration did you draw on to achieve your book writing ‘Everest’?
    My daughters inspired me to write my book. They are now 19 and 26 and I could not be a prouder mother. I did the hard work it takes to be a good mother and raised respectful, confident and loving daughters. If I did not fight for love in my life or my recovery I would have missed out on this greatest gift of my life. Love always wins!
  • How do you feel now, and what message would you like to give to others who would like to write their story?
    Writing my story and sharing it with the world has been exhilarating. I never knew the joy and satisfaction I would feel from writing my memoir. I look at my book and smile at it as if it is my new best friend forever. Two years I worked on my book every chance I could. Many times I wanted to give up because I did know if my writing was good enough to tell a powerful story. So my advice to anyone who has ever desired to write your story … DO IT … DO NOT DOUBT IT. You never know how many people you will touch by your story.

Curtis, Holly. Large Fry, Small Fry, Medium Orange. John S. Swift Co., Inc. Printing, Chicago, Illinois, 2016.
To purchase a copy of this book, email Holly: <>

June Alexander

About June Alexander

All articles by June Alexander

As founder of Life Stories Diary my prime motivation is to connect with people who want to share their story. Why? Because your story is important. My goal with this blog is to provide a platform for you to share your story with others. Building on the accomplishments of The Diary Healer the Life Stories Diary blog will continue to be a voice for people who have experienced an eating disorder, trauma or other mental health challenge, and provide inspiration through the narrative, to live a full and meaningful life.

My nine books about eating disorders focus on learning through story-sharing. Prior to writing books, which include my memoir, I had a long career in print journalism. In 2017, I graduated as a Doctor of Philosophy (Creative Writing), researching the usefulness of journaling and writing when recovering from an eating disorder or other traumatic experience.
Today I combine my writing expertise with life experience to help others self-heal. Clients receive mentoring in narrative techniques and guidance in memoir-writing. I also share my editing expertise with people who are writing their story and wish to prepare it to publication standard. I encourage everyone to write their story. Your story counts!
Contact me: Email and on Facebook and LinkedIn.

3 Responses

  1. Karyn rose baltetsch says:

    Dear Holly, l feel like l have known you for years yet we have never met. I believe in being loved back to life is the only way to fight an eating disorder. It’s wonderful that this is your message too, because too many professionals treating the deadly illness don’t realise that the way their treatment plan works is actually siding up and validating everything the eating disorder stands for instead doing the opposite and rewarding during the treatment with the truth. ‘you are loveable, you are worthy, and you deserve to get better. I always told my team, gentle works much better than harsh…and have witnessed it time and time again, when l finally found the right places and was overwhelmed by the tiniest acts of kindness that made me feel and helped me cry and be sad and eventually be able to experience joy for myself … like the little bird with the French fry…recovery has no end. l am certain of this because of life’s many challenges but having those little miracles to draw strength from can be an enormous step foreward…time after time, l feel blessed and humbled and inspired further to keep on keeping on because l now know loved back to life covers many areas of the healing process but started with one simple heartfelt smile that l hung onto for dear dear life. Love to you l’m looking foreward to reading your book, from Karyn.xo

  2. Karyn rose baltetsch says:

    Dear June, thankyou for the diary healer website and the many hours you have committed to getting it just the way you felt it needed to be. I find it very warm and inviting and l think it will help many many people doing what they love to do or need to do in a safe place, to share. Thankyou for this introduction to Holly and your generous love in sending the message of happiness between a little bird and a french fry….little miracles grow and grow when shared and not kept hidden away. Follow our own hearts as we do, and as l have witnessed through so many beautiful people suffering and struggling and fighting their way to becoming whole…in between the tears and the pain and the agony of recovery love still manages to have an effect eventually, love never gives up. Xo

    • June Alexander says:

      Dear Karyn, thank you for your beautiful message. The story of the french fry illustrates for us all that “love wins” and that every little kind gesture, and expression of compassion, can have a beautiful, healing, rippling effect xoxo

Leave a Reply