You can’t deny people are awesome. Who doesn’t like sitting down with good friends to ask them interesting, insightful, and funny questions? That’s what 11 Questions is about. I’ll be featuring some friends I look up to as well as people within the Orlando community I’ve always wanted to get to know.


I think I was first introduced to Lisa while driving through Mills 50, craning my neck to catch a glimpse of a woman riding a bike who resembled my favorite zany elementary school teacher (Mrs. Dottie Dorroto) and Ms. Frizzle from The Magic School Bus. “Who was that? She’s awesome!,” I thought. That was Lisa Bates.

If you’ve been in Orlando for a while you’ve probably crossed paths with Lisa or at least seen her riding her bike. She’s the one who spent decades taking care of others while working as a nurse. And the one at that new restaurant that just opened down the street. Oh yes, and the one supporting the arts by filling her home with as much local art as possible (along with a few other funny knick-knacks).

If you could have an extra hour of free time every day, how would you use it?

Woah, an extra hour of time—that’s a good one. I seem to dawdle away and waste so much time. I have the attention span of a hummingbird. Probably an hour of guilt-free doodling would be Nirvana.

Favorite book, album, or musician who has impacted your life?

Hmm, I’m a smorgasbord kinda person. I live in the moment, so who or what I’m listening to or reading at the moment knits together the fabric that has influenced me.

If you could mate two different species of animals what would they be?

Oh, hands down I’d put together a leopard with a zebra. Two prints I couldn’t live without! A safari to Kenya for Christmas in 1988 sealed the deal for my love of those two magnificent creatures.

Who in your life has inspired you?

Starting from about age 8 I spent a lot of summers with my aunt Polly and eventually moved in with my uncle and aunt. She loved people and they loved her. There wasn’t anything she couldn’t do. She opened me up to a lot of things that helped me develop my character and passions. Like food, travel, residential construction, interior design, and education. Oh, and a passion for knitting. I’ve probably knit blankets or baby blankets for half of Orlando.

What are you proud of?

I’m super proud to have graduated from the UCF nursing program, worked 38 years with Orlando Health as a nurse, and extremely proud to have worked as an emergency room nurse my last year there during the 2020 COVID pandemic outbreak. I was frightened at first, exhausted, and truly felt I was doing heroic work. It was beyond anything I have ever endured as a nurse. I’m so very proud of all my peers and the Orlando community that gave me tremendous love and support! Not a day went by without someone showing me random acts of kindness. I felt like ORLANDO HAD MY BACK! And I tried to give back to my community by supporting all my local foodies, servers, artists, and musicians as best I could.

What rejuvenates you?

Riding my bike in search of what’s new in the Orlando arts and entertainment scene always makes me feel like a kid again. And it’s always so diversified!

Is there anything you haven’t done yet that you feel compelled to do?

In my dreams, I would love to travel more. Traveling opens you to new ideas about other cultures, art, food, music, and attitudes.

How do you balance your personal and professional life?

My motto has always been work hard and play hard. And boy have I done both at full-tilt boogie. Now that I’m not working I have to find a new balance.

Best place to eat in Orlando?

Best place to eat?! There are so many fantastic choices just three clicks from home on my bicycle. I couldn’t pick one. I tend to go to places where I know I’m gonna have fun. Three faves are wings at Domu, chicken oysters tare or lamb lollipops at Tori Tori, and gazpacho and lettuce wraps at Santiago’s Bodega. And then there’s Kadence and Camille! OO-LA-LA! There is absolutely no way I could pick just one. Pom Pom’s, Pop’s Pizza, Tako Cheena, Black Rooster—now I can’t stop salivating!

How do you hope to be remembered?

I hope everyone I’ve come in contact with has a smile and a funny story to remember me by. Years ago I was in a little alley in the booming metropolis of Cuzco, Peru, when I heard someone calling “mi enfermera, mi enfermera” (my nurse, my nurse). I couldn’t imagine who knew me there. We had a brief conversation and while smiling, she told me how she remembered me from when I had volunteered in Piura, Peru, just two years prior. It touched my heart to the core and I have never taken off the stone necklace I bought from her that day!

If you were to choose a different career what would it be?

I think I would choose nursing all over again because I absolutely loved it! There are so many different kinds of nursing careers and it allowed me to support the arts, which is what I was originally enrolled in school for.

Click HERE to read more “11 Questions” columns by Brian Carlson.

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