If you’re a violet, be a violet: thoughts on authenticity

This is not me. This is an orchid.

My husband is reading this book for work called The Speed of Trust. He was telling me a story from it, that goes something like this:

The president of a university was preparing for a fancy dinner in his home. There were going to be government officials and major donors and other fancy people in attendance. As they were setting up, a delivery of beautiful, elaborate flower centerpieces arrived, which had been ordered by the development office of the university. But the president’s wife came to him and said there was a problem. The housekeeper had already prepared centerpieces: single violets that she had picked from the garden and placed in butter dishes. The president looked at the fancy flowers and said “No problem. Just send the flower arrangements back to the florist. We already have the centerpieces that Lola made.”

This story takes my breath away.

It’s supposed to be a story about respect, but it also signifies something else to me. It’s a reminder how beautiful it is when someone lives authentically and doesn’t cave to the grandiose expectations of others. For many of us, the simplest thing is the best thing.

Sometimes I feel like a violet in a butter dish, surrounded by exotic arrangements. Right now, my book agent is sending the manuscript of my memoir out to publishers. As I learn my way through this process, I hear that what “sells” in actor memoir is drama. Rehab, Twitter fights, scandals…those long, ugly roads that I intentionally bypassed.

My book doesn’t have those things. It has similar stories and themes as this blog – the challenges of growing up, figuring out who you are, and balancing that with what is expected of you. It’s about those real life questions we all wrestle with, like how do we peel ourselves off the couch after we’ve had our hearts broken? How much do we give up so we can discover our true purpose in life? It’s about the ways we are all the same and why it’s never to late to write the script for your own life.

The point is: if you are a violet in a butter dish, there is no use in trying to be an exotic, towering orchid. And if you are an orchid, it’s pointless to try to be a violet. One is not better or worse. They are just different. The real value comes in living whoever you are with wholeheartedness.

But it seems that because I don’t have orchid-type drama, it’s more challenging to convince publishers that people actually want to read that. According to those rules, if I would just have a psychotic breakdown and/or get a bikini wax on a reality television show, I would write a better book.

Sometimes that is frustrating, but this flower story reminds me that I don’t write for the people who just want orgies and car crashes. I don’t do it to be famous or to sell more copies than a Real Housewife. I am not going to dress myself up like an orchid and climb into a tiny box that someone else created, just to sell books. It’s not worth it.

I write for me. I write because it’s the air I breathe and it’s the way I relate to the world.

I also write for you. I write for people who love to read and love to connect. I write for those who feel that words have the power to change things. Inspire people. Provide comfort when everything looks dark and scary.

That’s why I write.  And why I will keep writing. I thank you for reading the words of a happy little violet in a butter dish.

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25 Replies to “If you’re a violet, be a violet: thoughts on authenticity”

  1. Such beautiful writing Lisa. I’m sure your memoirs will be published very soon and look forward to reading them. I do admire a person who has given up a past career because there’s an inner writer screaming to get out. I admire it because I did that too, although I fixed computers, so it’s not entirely the same 😉 The very best of luck with the book XXX

    1. But it is the same! That’s what I love. Those core issues are the same for all of us – regardless of the superficial details. Thank you so much for your kind words. They mean so much to me.

  2. Your writing is beautiful. I am a fellow “violet in a butter dish” and am quite happy with it. Peace, simplicity, quiet, authenticity, are what I love and strive for, always. Thank you. I look forward to reading your first book and hope many more follow.

  3. i believe that there are more violets than orchids in our real world and it will be the violets in the dish who are interested in your book, because many will be able to relate to same. For many, reading of your years as a young actress and then choosing to move on is easier to relate to than one in hollywood far removed from the real world. As a young attorney who likes to entertain in the home, i want to believe that i too would have returned the orchid for the single violet already prepared…..

  4. What a beautiful article! I also feel like a violet in a world filled with orchids, or people desperately pretending to be orchids. But I am learning to be authentic, and satisfied with my “violetness” especially as I grow older and care less of what others think of me, and more of what I think of myself. You are an inspiration to all of us violets, I can’t wait to read your book!

    1. That’s so interesting…maybe the orchids aren’t even orchids, just people trying to be orchids! But I think you are right, with age and experience comes a letting go of some of that. Thank God. 🙂

  5. I’ve learned to believe that less really is more. While we are all unique, there are many more things that bind us. Why wouldn’t someone want to connect with another who has experienced sadness, loss, regret, happiness, inspiration, peace, etc.? Looking forward to your memoir!

  6. I love this post. So honest, and so true!! Being who I’m supposed to be rather than adapting and changing myself to fit into other peoples’ expectations is something I seriously struggle with, and this piece of writing reminds me that I really don’t have to.
    I’ve just discovered your blog and I love it – best of luck for getting your memoirs published! I’d definitely want to read them!

    1. Thank you so much!! I think so many people struggle with this – and we all tend to think we are alone in that. Hopefully we can keep each other strong!

  7. Hi Lisa, I read that you’ve been always trying to run from your past, anyway sorry for sounding cliché, but I would like to thank you for all the amazing work you did.

    I consider you the most beautiful girl in the world since A Pig’s Tale, a movie that really marked my childhood (I’m 27 now btw). 🙂

    I will try to follow up your new work the most I can, you are awesome. I sincerely wish you the best.

    From your forever fan.

    1. That’s very sweet – thank you. I don’t think I’m running anymore. Now I’m just grateful for all the experiences that brought me to this moment! Thanks for reading – all the best to you too!

  8. You write beautifully, it’s so nice to read your articles that inspire others to live an authentic life and be true to who you really are. I’m so sick of high drama, our lives have enough of it as it is with work and family and the world around us and I certainly don’t feel like concerning myself with the likes of Real Housewives and other celebrity ridiculousness. And I for one can’t wait to read your book!!!

  9. I love that you posted this! I’m still acting..so often, we hear that in order to be “successful” we’ll have to do PR stunts, casting couch, take our clothes off, etc. – it’s so important to know who we are and our belief systems first. I think instead of violets, we should all be snowflakes. “Whatever you are, be a good one.” Best of luck with getting your manuscript accepted!

  10. Conformity is both dangerous and stupid. Always happier to be the violet. If only everyone had the sense to appreciate that. But reading this assures me there are violets all over the world.

  11. I once had a friend tell me, “You’re so lucky you can be happy with less!” She was speaking about money. She had a lot but felt she needed more. Years later, I spot on fb she’s giving seminars on “How can we all figure out how to be happy?” Lovely person, a therapist actually – looking for more impressive flowers? I love this post. You are a beautiful writing and obviously thoughtful person. Your book will reach exactly who needs to read it, I’m sure!

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