Deep gratitude for my life as I know it.

umzila kawulandelwa
6 min readMar 29, 2023

I mentioned in my last post that my current employer is based in London and I work remotely from Johannesburg. Well, two weeks back I got the pleasure of traveling to London for the first time ever! We had a retreat for the corporate services team for 3 days in London but I was there for a week.

It was a short but delightful trip! My friend who really should be recognized as my wife in the eyes of the law relocated to London last year so it was SO good to see her! I have to say that she was the highlight of my trip. I don’t think I’d have enjoyed London as much if it wasn’t for her. She taught me how to navigate the tube and by day 2 there I was able to get to places by myself. And that was the game changer for me. I don’t think I’d have managed to see all I did if I wasn’t able to commute alone.

Anyway, when I got this job my first thought was, “Ry and I are moving to London!” I have that option through my job. I obsessed about that thought of relocating after I got the offer letter. I could already see my fur baby and I calling London home. I couldn’t wait for my therapist to get back from the December holidays so I could tell her about this new dream that was suddenly well within reach.

My therapist is well traveled so I like to ask for her opinion on cities I’m visiting for the first time. She said I wouldn’t like London. I thought she was just being a hater because her job didn’t give her the option to move to London. We then agreed I would visit first before deciding to uproot my life. I could live with that. I knew I would be visiting soon anyway.

Omg now that I’m back I cannot thank my therapist enough for being my voice of reason! Honestly? I could never live in London! It was nice to visit especially knowing how short my stay would be! I couldn’t wait to come back home. Listen, I’ve never had to travel for more than 30mins to get to work since I started working. I don’t apply for jobs that are too far from home cos I hate sitting in traffic. Also I made a vow to myself that I wouldn’t buy a house unless I could afford one in my current neighborhood.

My dream of buying in this neighborhood came true and I’m so glad cos while I could never live in Sandton cos I associate it with work, I like to live close to it. If I get a job chances are very high that my employer is based in Sandton or its neighboring suburbs. So I want to be close to work without living across the road from it. My last job was in Rivonia and it took me 15–20mins to get there on days that I had to be at the office. I like it that way.

Also I have the convenience of having a car! I literally step out of my bedroom and into the garage, into my car and I’m off to wherever I need to be. My guy. London doesn’t have that option! People rely on the excellent public transport system they have there. But you cannot pay me enough to commute like that EVERY DAY!! Omg. That really wore me out and the random walking! I like to carry personal items for comfort when I’m not at home which public transport AND WALKING make impossible for me to carry.

My car has my sunglasses, tissues, my water bottle, my umbrella, and sometimes a jacket in the boot. Other times if I know I’ll be away from home all day I even carry warmer clothes in the boot so I can wear them when temperatures drop in the evening. Public transport doesn’t allow for such convenience! I absolutely hated that I had to remember everything I could possibly need throughout the day before I left the hotel in the morning.

And omg. The walking. God. I hated that! I have a dog. I already walk against my will so much throughout the day. My dog will not just pee or poop in our garden. We must take a walk first! LOL I kid you not. All his potty trips are a walk around our complex. There are days I just wanna pass out on the couch in front of the tv instead of getting up (what feels like) 2 million times to take him on his potty walk.

I absolutely hated that I felt like I had no choice against the walking in London. I was so exhausted when I got back. I think it’s one thing to get up and go for a walk and another to HAVE TO walk simply cos there is somewhere you need to be and getting there just means you must walk. Ugh. Hated that!!

In my therapy session I was telling my therapist that I saw London, it is beautiful, their systems work, the food is delicious, great place to shop, it is super safe but …. I don’t want it. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I’d ever say those words. Me? Not wanting London. I mean LONDON!! Jeez. Maybe I’m possessed but it’s a hard no for me. I told my therapist that I have all these feels about London and my small but beautiful life here but I just don’t have the words to express what I feel.

“I can’t name these feelings,” is what I said.

“Gratitude.”

“The word you’re looking for is gratitude,” my therapist said.

Hmm. That took me aback. I hadn’t recognized what I was feeling as gratitude. But turns out it was. Gratitude for my life here. I’ve been mulling over this and what it means for me. There was a time in my life I’d have given EVERYTHING for a chance to move to London. So what changed?

I have built myself a life that I am immensely in love with here.

Listen. For seven years I lived in bachelor apartments cos I genuinely couldn’t afford a bigger place. Not just the rent but say I scraped my cents together and got a bigger place, I wouldn’t have been able to furnish it. I just couldn’t afford it. Genuinely could not. Man, I have suffered. Lol

But yea. That’s the truth of my life. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d be a homeowner on my single income. I always thought a house would be something I’d only get with a partner cos double income baby! But I did it. And not only that I managed to furnish my place. The only thing that’s missing in my house right now is a dining table. But even that is not urgent.

I know these are small things to many people but they are not to me. And that’s how I honor my life and my journey. By not comparing it to others but simply to my old life.

There was a time I couldn’t afford all the things I have now. If I just looked at that in isolation or in comparison to other people who have been living in fully furnished mansions all their lives I’d be doing myself a disservice. My life hasn’t always been like this and I think it’s important for one to stop and acknowledge how far they have come.

Also I’m a child of immigrants. I was in boarding school and where I lived during the holidays wasn’t always the same. My parents didn’t own houses in the countries they lived in so they moved around quite a bit. I was determined to give myself a stable home and I did!

Again, that may seem small to other people but I am not other people. In my life these things are BIG things. I will never, ever let someone’s bigger things make me despise my big things. I am so glad I learnt to define success for myself when I was much younger. I measure myself against my own metrics. According to my own standards for my own life I have a damn good life!! I am happy and deeply satisfied with it. So satisfied I would never give it up for London or any other fancy place really. Well at least for now.

It feels like I’ve finally reached the peak of a mountain I have been climbing for YEARS! And I won’t let anyone rush me to move on to climbing the next mountain before I am satisfied that I have savored the view. The view is so damn pretty from up here!

Society is obsessed with the shiny things. You get one shiny thing and you must keep piling up the shiny things until you go blind. I refuse to do that to myself. I have enough and I am content with that. My little life here is not London but it is MY London and man, I am so DEEPLY grateful for it.

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umzila kawulandelwa

I tell stories about my experience of being alive. Perpetually day dreaming of reading and writing by the beach