This year, I am really focusing on being healthy and eating right. After Thanksgiving and Christmas, it’s time to get back on track for the new year. During the holidays all the food looked so good and I wanted to try everything!
I am also working on becoming more organized. I’ve had a lot going on and I’ve felt unorganized for a while. Since I moved, it seems like everything is out of order. My plan for the beginning of this year is to get everything organized and in its place.
Last year, the biggest thing I learned is the importance of finding your circle and surrounding yourself with people who support you. Find the people that you can trust and depend on. Those are the people that will always be there for you, and those are the people that will build you up instead of tearing you down.
I would encourage everyone to be patient, loving and understanding to each other’s feelings. Know that there’s a brighter light to every story. Just because you’re going through hard times, don’t let them control your life.
It’s time to stay on track and keep myself above float. I’m not letting things that happen in my life affect the way I live my life. I will face it, learn from it, and move on.
What are your goals for this year? What was the best thing you learned last year?
I have a lot of exciting things planned for this year. Stay tuned!
This year was the first time I cut down my own Christmas tree. It’s my new favorite holiday tradition.
On Christmas, I usually have a big brunch with coffee, cookies and donuts with family and loved ones. Later we have ham and turkey with all the trimmings. This year, I will be cooking everything and it’s going to be delicious. The best trick ever is to freeze the turkey so it lasts longer!
Later that night I snuggle up around the fireplace with my fur babies and watch Christmas movies. The original “Home Alone” is my all-time favorite movie but “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” is a close second.
I love to light a candle every year for the people who don’t get to have Christmas. I also release a balloon into the air outside to open people’s hearts more. Another one of my favorite traditions is making a snow angel. I find the deepest part of snow in the yard and jump in with my dogs. My little puppy loves the snow. Peanut? Not so much. She has short hair so she’s a little freeze baby.
On New Year’s Eve, I celebrate with friends, family and good laughter, and hang out at home. This year I will be sitting in front of my fish tank. Last year I watched the ball drop from my hotel room in NYC.
I wish everyone wonderful, safe and joyous holidays! Let this year be a year that you open your heart to love and laughter and leave the negativity behind you.
A couple weeks ago, I spent a few days out in Redding, California and spoke at One SAFE Place’s Fall Banquet. It is so beautiful there. There were many mountains and the all of the changing leaves were amazing. (Maybe that will be my next painting!)
One SAFE Place is so important to women who have experienced domestic violence and sexual assault. I met a lot of amazing women who have been through tremendous abuse and they are so powerful. I took a tour of One SAFE Place’s Sierra Center in Redding on Thursday. There I met the most amazing little girl who couldn’t stop giving me a hug. The center offers so many important resources for women, including legal services, safety, emotional support and a ton more. The center also helps these women get a place of their own. It’s not just a shelter, they help with education and therapy. They make it a safe haven where everyone can feel comfortable.
Later that day I met with members of VOICES, a local chapter of survivors. It was a pure joy to meet local survivor Colleen Stan who is known as the “Girl in the Box.” She’s beautiful inside and out and she has a really inspiring story. We both have so many similarities in our lives and she told the audience that we’re kindred spirits.
Hearing her story, and the stories from the other survivors, just reminds me why I keep doing this. I want to continue to inspire people. I want people to always remember that they can make it through anything with courage.
At the event, they played my song “Survivor”! I think that was a really powerful message to all the survivors in the room. “My angels keep me awake, I’m a survivor!”
People always ask me about my tattoos. Currently, I have a total of 62, each which represents something different. My tattoos help me express myself. They show my struggles, what I’ve been through and where I’m going.
My body is my canvas, and I’m painting a picture of my life.
I got my first tattoos when I was really young. Since then, I’ve covered them up with other tattoos that are more meaningful. I plan to continue getting tattoos that help me tell my story.
My next idea is a tattoo with a dandelion and birds flying into the sky. I want this to represent that every day, God grants us a second chance. I know most people think tattoos hurt, but I usually fall asleep!
Some of my favorite tattoos are:
- The clock on my leg with the butterfly and skull. It represents that my heart is not tied to my situations.
- The horse on the back of my leg. It symbolizes the horse that taught me how to love again that I met during equine therapy.
- The wolf howling at the moon. It means that you never know how strong you are until that’s the only thing you have left.
My pets mean the world to me. All animals do. I’ve had pets ever since I was a little girl. Pets have always been a great companion for me, especially during some of my toughest times.
Right now I have three dogs! Rascal is a three-year-old pit mix, Peanut is a boxer and pug mix and Cupid is a beagle basset hound who’s about three months old. If you follow me on Facebook, I used to have a couple birds but they didn’t get along with the dogs.
My favorite thing about having my dogs is just being able to go outside and play with them. Interacting with them is hilarious and I love taking care of them.
My plan is to start volunteering at local no-kill shelters so I can continue to help animals in need!
Thank you so much for taking the time to check out my new website! Over the past few months, I’ve been working hard to create a place where I can share about all the things that mean the most to me.
I’m excited to share some exciting news with my followers. Make sure you check back often as I update my blog frequently!
It started when I was still in the house. I sat down one day and said, “I don’t think I like my name.” I thought it represented nothing but abuse. I don’t want to be remembered as an abused person, I want people to think of me as a free spirit.
That’s when I came up with Lily Rose Lee. It was perfect! Flowers are peaceful and the name was beautiful. Lily represents being pure at heart, Rose is the flower of love and Lee was because of my son.
I’m not running away from my past, I’m just trying to redefine my life. I think that Lily Rose Lee better reflects who I am as a person. I needed a change, and I wanted a new beginning. This is my way of continuing to move forward with my new life.
In April, I attended the A Night of Promise Gala hosted by because I said I would. This was a great opportunity for me to hear stories of personal strength from speakers with different life experiences.
Because I said I would is a social movement and nonprofit dedicated to the betterment of humanity. At the Gala, I got to hear from the founder of the movement, Alex Sheen. He is a respected thought leader, and he even walked across the state of Ohio to honor my story!
I also got to hear from speakers like Colonel Parker Scheneurer, who served 27 years in the Army, and Katie Spotz, the youngest person to row across the Atlantic Ocean.
I love hearing inspiring stories from other people who have overcome obstacles and challenges in their lives. The Gala was a great reminder that any obstacle can help you grow.
In May 2013, Alex Sheen dedicated 10 days of his life to bringing awareness to sexual assault and abuse victims. Through his organization, he works to encourage people to make promises that better the world and to keep those promises. I think the work done by because I said I would is really inspiring. Each promise works towards making the world a better place.
In May, I travelled to the Cayman Islands to speak at the annual ‘Strength of a Woman’ event hosted by the Cayman Islands Crisis Centre. At this event, I was able to share my story of hope and faith during captivity and after my escape more than three years ago.
My trip to the Cayman Islands started with a dinner with the fundraising team of the Crisis Centre. I was able to meet the people who fundraise for such a great cause and help people rebuild their lives after experiencing crisis.
At the Strength of a Woman luncheon, I spoke with Tammi Sulliman in a Q&A session. During this session, I was able to tell a crowd of hundreds of people about my experience with faith, forgiveness and healing. I wanted everyone in the crowd to know that giving up is never an option, no matter how tough the situation is. I relied on the hope of seeing my son and my faith to carry me through a tough time, and I hope I can encourage others to do the same.
I also spoke about the importance of forgiveness. I hope that everyone who has experienced crisis can free themselves from grudges and learn the value of forgiveness. Forgiving is hard, but it has gotten me a long way in my healing process.
The event closed with a book signing, where I got to meet great people who have been impacted by or help support the Crisis Centre. For everyone who says I inspire them, I hope they know that they inspire me as well.
Speaking at the House of Ruth 2016 Spring Luncheon was a great way for me to share my story of courage, strength and resilience, and to let people who may be trying to survive a traumatic experience know that there are resources like the House of Ruth that can help, in many different ways, put your life back together.
My trip to Baltimore started with an interview with Jessica Kartalija. I shared with her how I’ve rebuilt my life and how I’ve not let my past control my life moving forward. Then I met with a few members of the House of Ruth board, including Executive Director Sandi Timmins. She told me about all of the services that House of Ruth offers to women in need in the Baltimore community, including the 24-hour hotline, legal clinic and emergency shelter.
The next day, I spoke to a full room of about 600 women and men. I heard powerful stories from T.J. Smith from the Baltimore City Police Department and survivor Mehgan Otto, and had a great conversation on stage with Melissa Moore.
The greatest gift out of telling my amazing story is hearing the amazing people that come up to me after I speak and tell me how I changed their life, and how I help them through a difficult time. That makes everything I do worth while and extremely rewarding. It fills my heart with so much joy that I can inspire others to have strength to never give up and not let the past define who we are. We can control our own destiny to rise above all that we went through and have a life full of happiness.
I was about five or six years old when I started drawing. It was a peaceful activity that allowed me to escape from the realities of what was going on around me. It was the only thing I could control. I started by drawing stick figures, X’s and O’s, and swirls. When I was concentrating on the art, it helped me forget about what I was going through and what I went through.
In school, I started to sit in the back of the class and just watch my art teacher. When my teacher wasn’t looking, I started drawing. I would get so lost in the moment and just draw for hours.
In my moments of tragedy, I found that creating art and writing poems and music was comforting, and allowed me to express my feelings in a positive way. Art truly provided a sanctuary for me – a state of mind where I finally had control over what I was doing. It allowed me to let go of the pain deep within my heart.
I would draw wolves, teddy bears, dogs, and I would draw where I wanted to be, or what I wanted to do in the summer. I always drew the night sky.
Today, art continues to play a tremendous role in my life and I still use art to help me heal and grow. It helps me with the things I cannot cope with on my own. I am also trying to branch out and explore more than just drawing. I’m quickly falling in love with painting and I’ve also starting working with clay.
On February 10, I spoke to room of 300 amazing women at the United Way of Delaware County’s 2016 Room to Grow event.
The United Way of Delaware County, Ohio does amazing things for the Columbus community, and in February 2012 the organization launched the Women’s Leadership Network (WLN). WLN’s mission is to bring women together to collectively inspire and empower individuals & families to succeed within Delaware County.
At the event, I talked to Mikaela Hunt and shared my story about how my inner strength and unwavering hope got me through my painful experiences in the past. Now as I rebuild my life, I want people to know that there’s hope. My goal is to encourage people who have experienced or are still experiencing similar situations that they can do anything they put their mind to. I want them to know that if I can make it through, they can make it through with love and courage.
My goal is to encourage people who have experienced or are still experiencing similar situations…
After I was rescued from the house, it was hard for me to know who I could trust. I didn’t have a support system. I want people to know there are resources like United Way that can help. It’s encouraging to know there are resources out there. When I was younger, I would’ve done things differently, I would have run to them instead of running to the streets.
After the event, I signed copies of Finding Me and met some incredible survivors. Hearing that I inspired them and gave them hope meant the world to me. You have the choice to make your own happiness. Hold your head high, don’t be condemned by the past, and don’t let it define you. You define who you are by everything you do. Don’t let yourself be trapped in the pain.