Hello October! I am officially on the countdown to Christmas, is that weird? This month, I am absolutely delighted to share with you all our Ms. October, Liz Totton – a lady whom I call my friend for several years. We met initially when she was a writer for Time Out Abu Dhabi and maintained contact through the years. Liz is one of those people who can turn your bad day into a happy one with her positivity and optimism. We share a passion for culture and camels ( I mean how CUTE is her photo on the left), and I always love hearing about her adventures around the UAE. Most importantly, Liz has been a pillar of support to me through the years and in her unique way, always shines a light on new perspectives. She is an advocate for women’s empowerment and loves to see strong women succeed. Happy reading!

Quick facts:

  • Name: Elizabeth Totton
  • Profession: Editor
  • Favourite destination: Anywhere and everywhere in Thailand
  • Horoscope sign: Aries/Taurus cusp, though I’d rather be a ram than a bull if I could choose.
  • Loves: Cooking, travelling, and painting
  • Hates: Drama and too needy and/or negative people

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself. 
 I am a mother, wife, daughter, sister, artist, writer, traveler, runner, and taco and hot sauce enthusiast—probably in that order.

2. How do you handle difficult times in your life? 
I am an optimist, so small things tend to roll off my shoulders. In harder moments, I usually compartmentalize them and try to work through them later in my writing and art. I am a big believer in therapy and communication having grown up with a psychologist mother.

3. What is your secret to achieving the right balance between your career, family, friends and doing what you really love?
This, for me, is an unanswerable question, because it’s such an evolution and has so many variables. I reevaluate, redefine, and reprioritize what’s most important in my life all the time. The only constant is my family, and it is what matters most.

4. What are your hobbies?
All my life, I have been an artist, sometimes working but mostly a hobbyist. My medium was oil paint, and I really miss painting. I do have plans to start again. Other than that, I love the beach, and we search the world trying to find obscure beaches that throngs of humans have yet to trash—it’s getting harder and harder to find every year.

5. What are your tips for happiness?
I think setting manageable goals and expectations is the single greatest recipe for success. I also think letting go of the notion of happiness and striving for contentment helps. Happiness is elusive while contentment is attainable.

6. Who is your role model or someone you look up to?
I look up to people who do not compromise on their ideals and beliefs in the face of adversity. I respect people who are unwavering with their kindness and generosity most.

7. What have been the most exciting milestones in your life?
I believe moving to Abu Dhabi was a pivotal moment. It was, for me, a mid-life crisis. Some people buy fast cars or jump out of planes. We packed it all up and moved to the Middle East. Abu Dhabi is a land of great opportunities where you can reinvent yourself anew, which I did, and I am grateful to have had the opportunity and to live in this peaceful place in such trying times.  

8. If you could change one thing in the world right now, what would it be?
What to choose?! It sounds so quaint in times like these, but I wish people search for similarities with other people and nations rather than only see the differences between us. Traveling the world has instilled me with a radical sense of sameness. In a world where people are terrified of otherness and differences based upon skin color, gender, religion, or nationality, I see only humans with essentially the same wants, needs, and hopes. I wish more people traveled and more people opened their minds when they do travel. I also dream of peace, but I am much more pessimistic about that one the older I get.

9. There are still a lot of cultures and societies who frown upon successful women. Why do you think that is, and how can it change?
I guess how I answer this depends on how we define success. Having taken a few years off to raise my daughters, I know firsthand that parenting is the hardest job that I have ever had. I also know that working to maintain a healthy marriage is hard work. I have great respect for the choices women have to make, because it’s not easy to choose between work and family, and no choice comes without its drawbacks. To answer the question though, I think the patriarchy is very threatened by women: their power, their longevity, their inner strength, compassion, and mystical ability to give life. I’d like people to pass less judgement on women. No person’s path to success is the same nor is their perception of it.

10. What advice can you offer for men and women, trying to balance a career, family and personal life?
Be easy on yourself. Almost all women I know try to pull the superwoman act; they try to have it all. When you take on too much, you break. You will never feel 100% satisfied that you made all the right choices with your parenting, career, marriage, profession, or life so I just try to celebrate the small successes and not dwell too much on the bad choices and failures. Today more than ever, we need to make space and time for human fallibility, for both men and women.

Follow Liz’s adventures through her Instagram account!

Disclaimer: Thank you Lizzy for being a part of this post and for continuing to spread positivity and creativity in our community!