Founder Lenka Lee

Lenka Lee
Founder of Lenka’s List
Devry University Alumni, Summa Cum Laude

By the time I turned seventeen, I longed to leave the Czech Republic, my mother land. I fantasized about a happy, fulfilling life in a faraway country. I wanted to find a place that I could call home.

It wasn’t my native country that I despised. Rather, it was the memories of my childhood that I wished to leave behind. I yearned to become a new person, to reinvent myself away from my dysfunctional family that stifled my every step forward.

I didn’t realize that I was packing my suitcase with all the drama and trauma of my short years, and faithfully carried that burden with me everywhere I went. Living with my parents was hard. Being on my own, harder.

I attempted to settle in Italy and later in Switzerland. Did I mention I didn’t speak the pertinent foreign languages, and I happened to be very strapped for cash?

My adventures were quite dangerous and borderline stupid. Due to my youthful naivety and recklessness, I gambled with my life. Although I survived my trips physically unharmed, my heart continued to shatter and fragment into million pieces. I wasn’t finding the life I wanted, and my hope dwindled.

At the age of 21, I boarded a plane to Chicago with $500 in my wallet. My riskiest escapade yet. Unbeknownst to me, I was meant to live the American dream!

For nearly a decade, I struggled on the brink of poverty, fighting to overcome the odds that lined up against me. I learned English. I put myself through college. I managed to find work.

I refused to cheat and cut corners. I think I must have popped a few veins in my neck, as I strained to survive my self-induced, masochistic roller coaster ride.

I eventually arrived. I relaxed, and settled into my suburban life. To my surprise, it didn’t last long. I crashed full speed into my very own mid-life crisis. I didn’t have the stamina to suppress my unresolved emotions any longer. I fell apart. Despite making it in this great country. Despite becoming a proud, if ‘only’ a naturalized citizen.

I took myself out of that damn country but I neglected to take the country out of me, you know?

I engaged in a heart wrenching self-quest, and revisited the dark and painful places inside of me. Thanks a lot for that, my dear destiny, it sucked but I kept at it.

Anyways, I am better now. Glad you asked. I found a way to let go. I became a writer.

Things to know about me:

I am writing a novel about my childhood in communist Czechoslovakia and a new life in Chicago that I landed after a series of unexpected events and bold decisions on my part. The book will be called “Gutsy” or some variation of it such as “Totally Nuts” or “Don’t try it at home”.

In 2004 I met a great guy. Soon after we became engaged, he wrote me a poem. I knew then that our life together will be nothing but roses.

A man and a woman
Navigated by God in the current of time
Preparation, in our weakness He shapes us
Opening up and letting go
A bold future they will sow
When two become one He is pleased
I love you

Married

In 2016, after more than a decade together, I suggested that he writes a new poem to commemorate our ongoing marital bliss. His poem is equally touching and moving:

I like rice, so do mice, the greasy type, all the hype.

Before we settled down and procreated, we traveled the world and had a lot of fun. We spent five days of our honeymoon in a Mexican shelter, awaiting hurricane Wilma to pass Cancun. Our cell phone got stolen in a crowded subway in Barcelona while we were entirely focused on not getting our luggage taken by a group of tourist-prying thugs. During our lovely walk in the park, as we delighted in the sunset of wintery Melbourne, I got bitten by a possum.

We eventually settled down and brought two wonderful children into this world. They have been dubbed Chinese Czechers by our thoughtful friends. Why? Oh, who knows…

Family