Frank Ferrante, star of May I Be Frank, immediately drew me into his story with his indelible Spirit, Sicilian charm and magnetism. Indeed, the ever-present, bright-shiny twinkle in his eye and his broad smile instantly captured not only my attention, but also my heart. The lessons he was about to share with me about healing and transformation, second-chances and gratitude, contrasted with an extraordinary and endearing level of openness and heart, with a background laced with drug addiction, obesity, Hepatitis C and pre-diabetes, was a sure draw for me into the humanity of his story.
OK, forgive me; let me get this out of the way right now. I once learned that we are all born with prejudices, that is, we all prejudge, but fortunately, we all continually learn to negotiate and renegotiate our pre-judgments of others as we move around in the world. And, after growing up as an Irish-American, in a predominantly Italian-American community, I guess I kinda’ didn’t expect Frank to be so open to all the “progressive” kinds of things his team of coaches from Café Gratitude would request of him to heal and grow. Yup, I am guilty; try as I might to scorn labeling others. I reckon I pegged Frank as more “old-school,” rather than a progressive kinda’ fella’, and boy, was I flat out wrong (love it when I am wrong… such powerful learning). And, there it is, the first moment my heart was captured by his magnetism (because I was wrong!), as Frank sat with his coaches from Café Gratitude, heartily laughing, as he recited and vowed to keep the “rules” they “required” him to keep, in exchange for the support and partnership they offered him to transform his life.
May I Be Frank is a glorious story of the healing power of food, redemption and faith, faith that transformation is possible for anyone of us. Estranged from his daughter, depressed, over-medicated with prescription drugs that are further debilitating him, and over-weight, Frank happens upon the famous, raw, organic, vegan restaurant, Café Gratitude, in San Francisco. Asked by one of the servers during one of his visits to the restaurant, “What is the one thing you want to do before you die?” Frank says, “I want to fall in love one more time, but no one will love me looking the way I do.”
Likely stirred by Frank’s indelible Spirit, too, Ryland the server, his brother Cary and best friend Conor make Frank an offer that he just could not refuse. The three twenty-something-young-men offered to partner with Frank to transform his life, if he agreed to eat only raw at every meal (at the restaurant, Café Gratitude) and practice gratitude for the next 42 days, visit a local holistic practitioner and get one colonic a week. After Ryland made the offer, Frank returned the very next day to submit to the agreements the three young men proposed.
Over the course of the 42 days that the Ryland, Cary and Connor document Frank’s progress of healing, nothing short of the mythological tale of the phoenix rising from the ashes occurs, touching everyone privileged to witnessing Frank’s transformation. From challenging his own ideas and beliefs of healing, to utterly changing his diet overnight, to reconciling past hurts with his ex-wife and daughter, to discovering the uber-transformative quotient of self-love, Frank continuously, over and over and over again, drew me in, with his open heart, and effusive laugh! If you are looking for an empowering true story, riddled with adversity and laced with inspiration, if you are looking for a story to usher in encouragement for you too to transform you own life, I heartily recommend May I Be Frank. Frank Ferrante shares with us a very, very compelling story.