Anna-Lisa Notter
  What shall we call you?    Anna-Lisa. Some others have dubbed me A.L., Al, Auntie-Lisa, Honeybaby, Chickachoo and most recently named in a ceremony by my DragonFamily, Piaf Joy.    What do you do that you love, and how did you find yourself there?    I LOVE making. All sorts of things. I need busy hands. I love to draw. I lose myself in a painting when I manage to carve away the time to set it all up…Singing all the while… Attempting new instruments. Performing. Knitting while watching football. (EXCEPT for that Super Bowl!)  The conflict has always been my inability to PICK. JUST. ONE. THING. I’m finally accepting the fact that I can’t. I know I’d become SO much better at my craft (whichever I settled on) if I harnessed my energy and focused. And still, my heart won’t let me. I need to perform and be surrounded by people and the collaborative energy, and then I need to run away from the noise and draw or paint in isolation for hours. If I don’t balance them out, my body and soul starts to feel lopsided.
  What inspires you to get up in the morning/stay up late into the night?    I’ve got some serious OCD in my family…sometimes an idea strikes me or I’m mid art project and I lose track of time. I’ll forget to eat, or at least be annoyed that I ought to if I remember. I was always a night owl before the baby…sadly, I think I still am. I just know I ought to switch schedules ‘cause those morning hours start to hurt! Coffee is really the answer.   What challenges have you met in chasing that inspiration?    Making money can be exhausting. It’s hard to navigate what you really REALLY want to do as an artist, what you CAN do instead, and the third option being what you possibly OUGHT to do so as to keep a budget and your anxiety at a minimal. It gets easier as the years go by to let go of certain expectations of myself and accept who I truly am and what I’m created to do.
  Who do you have a girl crush on?   My paternal great grandmother was an artist who sculpted porcelain dolls that sold in Nordstrom in the 1950s. My maternal great grandmother emigrated to Seattle from Sweden as a teenager at the turn of the century, alone, leaving behind her twelve elder siblings and parents to seek adventures in the new unknown world. We still have her guitar. My grandmother was a prized quilter and teacher at Parson’s School of Design. My other grandmother, one of the only female doctors in her class during the 1940s. Her daughter, my sole aunt by blood has the most beautiful operatic soprano voice I know and has enriched every family gathering I can remember with her song and smile.  My mother is a retired high school art teacher and one of the most talented artists I know. She raised four children, sacrificing much of her own time to allow us kids to discover our own passions and is now living a brave and bold new life as a retired widow. She travels all around the world, is babysitter as often as is humanly possible for her five grandchildren and a super fan of all our music projects. My sister is following suit as a part-time graphic designer who is raising four children under the age of six. One day in her home and you too would acknowledge that she is superhuman. I married into a family full of other incredibly strong women. My mother-in-law was a Super Delegate for the Democratic National Committee and took us to Washington D.C. to witness President Obama’s first inauguration. She’s also trained as an architect, mother of two and super grandma to four lucky little girls. Her mother raised two young daughters on her own when her husband passed, jumped up into the business world and became the head interior decorator for major hotels across Hawaii in the 1960s. Mike’s sister is also a doctor, married to a doctor, raising three beautiful and intelligent girls. Mike would argue that I was sold on him once I met his family and saw that he was surrounded by strong, fearless women. My number one female crush is…..MY DAUGHTER! Willow Bea. Six months old and she has already won my heart and become my favorite lady imaginable! I can’t wait to watch her unfold year after year into the woman she is meant to be.    If you had the opportunity to ask her anything, what would it be?   I ask all of them questions all the time. How do you balance work and family? Do you drink as much coffee as I do? What excites you about life? What projects are you working on? How can we collaborate? What fills your cup? How do you rest?
  Who/what is your spirit animal?    I’ve always loved elephants. Don’t really know why. I think I’m drawn to their massive presence, their power, and their seemingly calm disposition. I wear a necklace of one around my neck often. I saw one at the Woodland Park Zoo dancing years ago. Simply rocking back and forth, lifting his front leg up, then stepping back, kicking his back leg up and then coming to the center again. It was like a step aerobics class. Over and over, dancing just for the fun of it. I probably watched him for an hour. I may have fallen in love with elephants then.    What’s a fantastic piece of advice you have been given in your life, and who gave it to you?    “Redeem the Time.” My dad’s favorite quote. He passed away in 2007 from a motorcycle accident and died on impact. That phrase pops up in my head all the time and I think about it as applied to him. Life is short and you never know when it’s going to end. You better be doing what you love, letting go of the stuff that doesn’t matter and treating people around you as you wish to be treated. My dad’s passing has helped me to live bravely and boldly, less afraid to pursue my dreams.
  Who is the person in your life that helps fuel love and creativity, and how does he or she do so?    My husband. I was partly drawn to him because he was the most authentic artist I’ve ever met. He lives a life full of passion, thoughtfulness, discipline and focus. He believes in my artistry as well as his own and I could never dream of a more supportive partner. When I doubt myself, he encourages me. When I create, he gives constructive criticism if I ask for it, bolsters me up when he feels inspired to do so and gives me creative space when it’s needed. Together, we dream of a life where we can both be the artists we feel called to be. He is a prolific songwriter that cleans windows by day and I like to think myself as an artist who has catered off and on for inspiration. ;)    What do you love most about being a woman?    Our bodies are miraculous! We grow human beings inside of us! I’ve just experience this for the first time six months ago….well, for the past year or so is a little more accurate. It is mind blowing. Our bodies stretch and accommodate for a tiny human to grow in our bellies. Without us having to read about it, get a degree or understand any of it. Our bodies just DO IT. We then labor. Without needing to know a thing as well…pure instinct and species survival. Mother Nature is called mother for a reason. It births, it grows and evolves and cycles with grace and ease.
  What challenges have you encountered in your life that are linked to your gender?    I was a theater major, which I loved! My college experience was pure bliss. During school, I was able to play. I could become anything and everything I wanted to….casting was more or less blind. Gender, age, and body didn’t matter. We even had a cross gender focus that allowed us to play with embodying the opposite sex, learning and adapting subtle mannerisms, working with our voice range and inflections. This was when I loved theater. It freed my imagination and stretched my abilities as a performer to have no limits…to live in someone else’s shoes and story. After graduation, I auditioned and received my Actor’s Equity card with an amazing world premiere of Becky’s New Car at ACT Theater. I played the rich, spoiled daughter of a billionaire. Maybe slightly typecast as a blonde. But it was a brilliant comedy and I was surrounded by the most talented actors I could imagine gleaning from. After that show, there were more auditions, more scripts read, commercial or television opportunities, and after each one, the fire dimmed within me. I was instructed to wear a more revealing shirt to the callback once. I was told that the best advice I could take to heart was to “never get fat.” How naked would I be willing to be? There are no parts for women over thirty. THIS is my primetime. To be a blonde ingénue in her 20s and 30s IS my career and it will be over shortly. But I didn’t want to play those parts. I didn’t want to be the girlfriend, love interest, the bitch, the slut. That was never the reason I acted. I wanted to tell real stories. Stories that mattered. I wanted my body to be a vessel that could be transformed and used to house a characters spirit, not a restriction that said who I couldn’t be. Basically, the reality of commercial acting hit me post college. It was about then that I was drawn more and more to music and performing with my husband or contemporaries in the folk-rock scene of Seattle. I got to perform and connect to an audience, but we got to sing OUR songs. We get to be ourselves. This shift coincided with my dad’s passing as well. When I felt real loss and pain in my life for the first time, I had a harder time conjuring up sad imagery to make myself cry on demand. Life hurt too much and I didn’t need to relive a make believe pain night after night on a stage. To be honest, it was just too painful to tap into my own heartbreak. I know I will come back to the stage someday, and maybe not long from now. I really do love it. I just want to prove that it is something that I can do in thirty years. Maybe by then I’ll be taken more seriously as a comedic actress. I’ve studied a lot of I Love Lucy during my high school years. I hope to use it again soon.
  Tell me something pretty. A quote, a lyric, whatever it is that inspires you.     Valhalla by Hannalee (lyrics by Mike Notter)   Follow where the quiet voices lead you Close your eyes and they will know the way  Watch for where the broken people need you  And longing not to go will come to stay    Rise and breathe the air that’s all around you Once a day works wonders for your health Find the ones who opened up and found you And lead them down the road to lose yourself   Such risings and fallings inside you come dancing like la la la la My mother my father I know you I’m going to Valhalla   Marvel at the girl who kneels before you Fall before her kneeling further still Laughing with the children who adore you Empty out your heart to get your fill   Like cold rushing waters inside you come spinning like la la la la My mother my father I know you I’ll see you in Valhalla   Sing the song of joy that’s born within you Drawing near to those who’ve done the same Welcoming the end as you begin to Fade into the light from which you came   Such colors and flashings inside you come singing like la la la la My mother my father I know you I’ll see you in Valhalla
  Ok-super-quickly-without-hesitating-write-down-the-first-five-words-that-come-into-your-mind.    That’s all for now, folks!
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