(1) 365 Smiles

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Welcome to 365 Smiles! 365 days of gratitude during the riskiest year of my life thus far! Leaving 9-5 to live in alignment with my purpose. Join me by smiling and sharing the reason behind that smile!

(1) 4th March: Blessed to have such creative and skilled friends; Aysha has come up with great Logo ideas. Starting to work with Jiten and Prash on the website. And Pooja helping me with branding and growth ideas. I love working with friends, empowering each other – a real sense that we are all adapting through learning and the support we are providing each other is incredible. 

(2) 5th March: I few days ago I had a phone conversation with a lady from Ladakh, we instantly connected over our ideal way of travel. Today, she sent an itinerary across which gave me an awesome insight. 

(3) 6th March: This evening I had 3 friends come round do carry out a design thinking brainstorm session around T4P, we chucked ideas round, worked through multiple activities and cheered each other on for 5 hours! What an evening. 

(4) 7th March: By the end of today my to-do list is full of ticks – smiling for a productive day!

(5) 8th March: Met my mentor for a drink, she’s recently started her own mindful painting business that’s thriving. Hence, was able to share insights on trademarking, domain names and balancing my day job with this side venture. I do adore her, she’s also a big traveller – ideal mentor, or what?!

(6) 9th March: simply smiling for waking up on a Monday with energy and belief. 

(7) 10th March: spoke to my health insurance company today, insurance is a luxury for many. Grateful to be covered by insurance and know I’m protected – at least while I’m in this job. 

(8) 11th March: had a physio session today for a weak tendon I have behind one of my knee’s, which gives me gym access into a (very) expensive gym and so went to my first ever pilates class. Feeling energised and somewhat strong.

(9) 12th March: presented at work today, I remember the days I was terrified of presenting, having my voice heard. Now I actually enjoy it (as long as I’m prepared) – skills can be developed if there is a will – turn terrifying into enjoyable

(10) 13th March: aching, aching big time (from the pilates class 2 days ago) – but still smiling from how difficult stairs feel now and the knowing that muscles are growing! Called up GoDaddy to inquire about hosting and opted in for a hosting package (for the website) – it’s all coming to life!!

(11) 14th March: Jiten and Prash came round to mine today and we made a great base start to the website, well mostly Jiten did; while Prash and I chipped in ideas here and there. Smiling for super talented friends and the start of a website!

(12) 15th March: Trademark application – I’ve always been overwhelmed by official government forms and registrations. There’s always a feeling that if I mess up one section, they’ll be after me. I always feel like I’m not experienced enough too. But this weekend I simply sat down with a goal to send this application and I did! What’s even better, it was fairly simple – (hopefully I’ve done it right)!

(13) 16th March: homemade falafels, so good! Falafels are literally a pocket of yum, each bite provides a rainbow of flavours – what a lunch. 

(14) 17th March: First insta post I genuinely feel satisfied about. Everyone is going through a tough time right now due to Coronavirus and I made a post of what people can do while self-isolating. That will hopefully add value for a few people, making their days inside more positive.

(15) 18th March: my mum came to my rescue today, she flew all the way from Kenya to be with me during this pretty scary time. I currently live on my own, hence as soon as borders started to close, ’stay at home’ was imposed she came over to keep me company. So so grateful – @shamsmum the super mum. 

(16) 19th March: catching up with mumma, having food made by mumma, playing cards with my mumma, waking up next to my mumma, going on a walk with my mumma. Basically my mumma.

(17) 20th March: admin, none of us are massive fans of admin, but it has to be done. Ticked a few to do’s that have been lingering for a while and I feel I can breatheeee a bit better now.

(18) 21st March: website progress is showing, feels so good to use creativity and make something from scratch. True satisfaction. Also discussed the Kenya itenary ideas with my mumma and received helpful feedback and support. Big smile!

(19) 22nd March: haven’t video’d myself for a while, but I did today! A small step outside of my comfort zone, taking a video as part of an ‘application’ to speak at the Conscious Festival. It’d be a big deal, a leap of faith, but oh so thrilling. 

(20) 23rd March: banana and cinnamon muffins! Mhmmmmm. Haven’t baked in a while and that smell of goodness rising in the oven, to the first moist bite. Happiness.

(21) 24th March: I received a reply from Linda & Sven. I met the couple at a cafe in Nairobi airport back in Janurary as they asked to share the table I was sat at. Fate. Their story was incredible, I’ve never heard anything quite like it. As a result they’ve now built 3 schools in a Maasai village, a medicine unit and much more. I hope to meet them again in the future.

(22) 25th March: air. I’ve been at home for around 10 days now, in a 1 bedroom flat – the feeling of breathing fresh air, moving in an open space, seeing the flowers blossoming, hearing birds tweet and seeing other genuine smiles – as the whole world is faced by a hurdle.

(23) 26th March: my trademark was accepted – this is HUGE. The feeling of step by step the puzzle being fitted is surreal. I didn’t quite realise the scope of starting something from scratch, as soon as I dive into one part I discover 10 more. I’m learning so much and it feels so satisfying. 26th March, it’s a milestone date.

(24) 27th: Akhil, wrote out a whole document correcting my grammar and language for the website. Grateful to have mates better at English, than me! Also, starting to get a hang of WordPress editing myself, there’s something about visualising a feature on the website and (many youtube video’s, facetimes with Jiten and Prash later) the feature coming alive, implemented on the website. 

(25) 28th March: Fresh pizza baby and a glass of red vino, with lights off and candles on due to Earth-hour coupled with a side of Sir David Attenborough. I don’t need to say anymore.

Mother in the skyscraper office
Homemade Pizza and Wine during lockdown

Mama in the 9-5 sky scraper

Homemade pizza’s and a glass of vino

(26) 29th March: Today, my mum taught me a card game her and my father play a lot with their friends back home in Kenya; it’s called bhukhar and is usually played in pairs (hence not so effective with 2 people). Nevertheless, it made me smile seeing her joy in teaching me something she really enjoys. 

(27) 30th March: Managed to get a score a pop-up on the website – I’m telling ya, I’m getting the hang of this whole building a website thing! (If you’re reading this on the T4P website – you’ve probably already seen the pop-up – ye that thing got me REALLY excited

(28) 31st March: I stood on my balcony, eyes shut with the sun softly touching my face. I almost started to imagine an ocean breeze!

(30) 1st April: April foooools, one of my favourite days as I love pranks, pulled some decent ones off which created some great laughs (for me at least). ALSO, we have finalised the T4P logo today – Aysha has been absolutely incredible and super patient with me.

(31) 2nd April: at 8pm today people in the UK people stood at their open windows or balcony and showed appreciation for the NHS carers. It was incredibly heartwarming, to feel a sense of community, togetherness and  recognition during these tough, tough times.

(32) 3rd April: I’ve had a pretty full on week with work (9-5 job) as we’re launching insights related to COVID-19 to help out our customers facing financial difficulties. It’s been intense but it’s Friday today!

(33) 4th April: Firstly, I’m so thankful to have a bit of a breather from work and concentrate on T4P this weekend! @topphotokenya reposted an insta post, which allowed me to connect with so many new people. I launched a T4P challenge yesterday; to reflect on your favourite travel memories as we are camp indoors.

(34) 5th April: Today, I discovered a ‘beach, 20 minute walk away from me! Due to COVID, we are allowed 1 form of outdoor exercise in the local area. I’ve never made a conscious effort to explore this certain part of town – but there was a beautiful pebbly bank you could go down to the River Thames. It felt like a gasp of fresh air, while being in central London!

(35) 6th April: Quizzed it up with uni friends tonight – digital means to rack your intelligence brain while catching up has now become a thing, smiling cos I have mates to do that with!

(36) 7th April: 2 days ago (on the way to the beach discovery) I attempted a run and fell 45 seconds in – great start Sham! Wasn’t gonna let that hold me back though, so went on a run today. I’m not a runner and I’ve always used Asthma as an excuse – no more excuses and it felt friggin’ fabulous. 5K here I come (gradually).

(37) 8th April: today we implemented the logo in the browser tab – do you know how real this makes it feel?! I feel like I’m on the same level as Apple, Google, BBC. A logo and it showing on the internet – scooooooore!

(38) 9th April: while the majority of us are sitting at home, feeling a tad sorry for ourselves – I’ve initiated a challenge; post your favourite travel memory. Allowing people to spend time reflecting on past travels, reliving the memories, spreading smiles and inspiration. I’ve been doing it myself for my top 10 memories, today I posted number 3 – related to Cannan Orphanage. What a delight it’s been thus far; so many new conversations are being generated through it. Travel chat is probably my top type of chat (incase you were wondering).

(39) 10th April: long Easter weekend HELLLLLO! Spent most of today filling out content for the website, I’m super indecisive and feel like I always need someone to consult. This was a hard lesson for me to just go with my gut and get it out there, an experience.. Having said that, if you’re making your way through the website right now and think it’s absolute crap let me know, please..

(40) 11th April: these evening I joined Raya Was Heres’ community call. There were people from all over the world, all sharing views and different perspectives of the time we are currently living through. I can’t tell you how good it felt to be part of a new community after so long in isolation! Grateful for communities now going online

(41) 12th April: today was a momentous day! T4P scored their first collaborator; stunning eco cottages in Ladakh within the Himalayas. I stayed here in May 2019 and was blown away by the thinking and precision put into this place. Today I talked to the founder of Lchang Nang and we bonded over a number of things; both leaving corporate jobs to put our efforts into something more fulfilling, our love for nature and eagerness to grow. Super excited to work with Lchang Nang and see how this relationship blossoms. 

(42) 13th April: I made a promise to myself to be consistent with my instagram posts for the #travel4purpose challenge – to post every other day. Today was the 5th post (half way), I received a great reaction and being consistent has really paid off in terms of the increase in interactions. I’m not a huge fan of social media, but it’s needed within this industry and I’m slowly finding ways to enjoy it! Also had a fun little dress up zoom call this evening – adapting to the sitch..

(43) 14th April: had a call with Pareet today, my older brother who is an incredible photographer. I showed him the T4P website and he provided great feedback. So blessed to have family that not only care but share passions and are willing to help this vision unfold. 

(44) 15th April: I created the website profile for Lchang Nang, I know I keep saying this, but everytime I make another step, it’s such a good feeling that things are coming together. I listened to a podcast I watched a few months ago and the speaker mentioned ‘avoid being overwhelmed by the huge task for starting a new business, instead take it is small steps and pat yourself on the back after each one’ – something I’ve been practicing during this process. Love a pat on the back!

(45) 16th April: 4th key workers and NHS clap, once again the feeling of community and everyone coming together for the greater good spurred a warmth sensation. 

(46) 17th April: I was set a task at work that I kept putting off for about 4 weeks now. I finally sat down at 6pm, put my head to it and submitted it. You know that feeling when you get rid of that annoying lingering, yeah that! 

(47) 18th April: I’m starting to get itchy feet from this whole lockdown thing… The desire to be surrounded by people, new experiences and learning is real! So today I started a new online course to add some freshness into a brain that seems to be going stale. Thankful for the internet, free resources and the acknowledgement that knowledge is everywhere. 

(48) 19th April: Kicked a ball around today! Such a simple action but during times like this it’s so appreciated. Certified I still can’t aim a ball but hey ho.

(49) 20th April: Did the JAB challenge today, 2 of my super close mates; Akhil and Niam have started a bhangra fitness business. Just felt really good supporting mates who are excelling in their passions and visions.

(50) 21st April: Got a tesco delivery today! It has been near to impossible to get an online delivery for the last 6ish weeks, which has meant walking 20 minutes with achy arms from holding kilos of oranges for that VitC. Smilin’ for online deliveries and key workers out there making our lives easier.

Dress Up Zoom call during COVID-19
Cooking during COVID-19, choc orange cheesecake

Dress up Zoom quiz

Finding time to bake and experiment

(51) 22nd April: 3rd meditation over a conference call with work today. I remember how nervous I was during the first time and 3 times on, I feel so much more at ease. No longer said ‘feet of soles’. Just goes to show, stepping out of your comfort zone is nerve-wracking but it becomes part of your comfort zone very quickly and just like that your experiences and skills expand.

(52) 23rd April: I discovered ‘workaway’ today and something in the insides of me fired up. What a cool concept that completely aligns with my vision of knowledge exchange and giving with a purpose. 

(53) 24th April: Today I filled out an application to volunteer for 2-4 months. The freedom of being able to do that without having to think of annual leave is magical. Excited to embrace myself in all these experiences I was unable to over the last 2 years (660 odd days).

(54) 25th April: A pretty small but satisfying one today. I wasn’t a huge fan of the background in different sections on the website’s home page, always kinda said I’ll come back to it and change it. Everyday I would look at that homepage multiple times but didn’t actively edit the background – cos it wasn’t on the to do list. Today I did it! I’m more satisfied with the look and a little learning point for me that I can be a rebel and go slightly off track on the all famous to do list (within reason of course).

(55) 26th April: I went on a hefty walk today, 2 hour round trip. The weather was beaming, called a few mates I hadn’t spoken to in a while and listened to a great podcast. The podcast was titled: ‘Understanding and Taking Advantage of Uncertain Times’, they talked about how we should be using this time wisely, reevaluating, resetting and reinventing ourselves if we believe we are not currently on our purposes’ path. This hit chords, they rang loud!! 

(56) 27th April: Pareet is my older brother, well technically cousin brother but basically brother. He’s been so so supportive in this whole process, he just kinda gets me you know. Today he sent me a list of things I should think about before the move and to take over to Kenya. He also lives in Kenya and is a pretty huge inspiration and one of the reasons I feel like this is the right move. 

(57) 28th April: I created my workaway profile today. Heard about this platform from so many people but never got round to looking into it more. I looked into it more, came across some incredible hosts and signed up without thinking twice. Excited to see what friendships come out of this!

(58) 29th April: I presented the website to Krishi and Kaaj today. I’ve known Krishi since he was born (literally) and Kaaj has been a huge part of my life for the last 6 years. So it felt super special to finally share a more tangible part of my dream with them and have the chance to see their reactions (over zoom) and receive their feedback.

(59) 30th April: Paperwork done! For the last 10+ years I’ve collected and filed documents and never had a clear out. That clearout happened on the last day of April. I feel so much lighter and thankful for online documents now.

(60) 1st May: I joined 2 talks that were part of the global online conference. Both were super positive, provided some food for thought and some motivation. One of the speakers may even join as a T4P Rafiki with his retreat centre in Costa Rica.

(61) 2nd May: I received a response from Il Ngwesi, a eco-lodge in Kenya. I reached out to them last week after coming across their profile online and instantly feeling a sense of excitement from what they stand for. Ladies and Gents, we may just have the 1st eco accommodation T4P partner!

(62) 3rd May: Mumma and I transformed the flat into a hair salon today and had great fun! I’ll admit I got carried away with the scissors and her hair is considerably shorter and uneven now but a good laugh was had.

(63) 4th May: Had a chat with Daniel today, he works within the social innovation team at work and has been a great guide over the last year. We usually meet up for coffee at work (or lemon green tea) as he prefers. It feels strange chatting over webex but super refreshing to just bounce ideas back and forth. I love thinking of new ideas and solutions to problems, having someone on a similar wavelength to do that makes it even more enjoyable!

(64) 5th May: A small win today; filled out my new driving license form! You may have gathered but I’m not a fan of paperwork, so this felt worth mentioning.

(65) 6th May: Made some progress on my blog pieces today. Starting a blog was always so intimidating, especially because my english isn’t the best – but I’m starting to feel more comfortable (with https://www.thesaurus.com/ by my side).

(66) 7th May: I edited the attributes on the website today. My vision is that each trip is personalised to the individual’s purpose – hence the traveller chooses their top 3 attributes from the list associated to the country and we work on building the perfect trip! Attributes are key.

(67) 8th May: Starting to get itchy feet as COVID gets worse, the travel industry recovering looks dimmer and dimmer. So many predictions and assumptions are flying around. I had a plan down to the month of how everything would go and BAM, that’s gone straight out of the window. Feeling slightly like I’ve got one foot stuck in the mud, right now. But I also have a strong belief that as society, we will get over this and the foot will come out of the mud. Staying grateful for being healthy.

(68) 9th May: It’s Saturday, I managed to go outside and have a play around with a frisbee, god damn it felt good. Something about space, running after something and appreciating fresh air.. All of which is limited in the current situation.

(69) 10th May: Facetimed Jade today, she’s one of my uni housemates girlfriends and a ball of light. Grateful for friends that brighten up my day! Also started creating the Rafiki profiles – the feeling of someone trusting you and giving you the privilege of sharing their brand is insane. But the feeling of spreading the goodness people have created is even more insane!

(70) 11th May: Big day today, after 22 months in a corporate job I handed in my notice… I blinked into a glimmer of freedom. Then I got the ‘you can’t go’ call. To be honest, I’m appreciative, during these super uncertain times, my team were willing to pull strings to keep me in while aligning to my needs too. Time will tell, if the request is accepted…

(71) 12th May: Paul doughnut! I could leave it at 2 words but oh my, I’ll attempt to describe the experience (so when I read this back, I can drool everytime – clever Shammi). The sugar dusting starts to stick to my fingers as I lovingly pinch the soft dough. First bite, my eyes close, the sweet bread and chocolate taste takes me into a whole new world. I rush in for another bite and before I know it, it’s gone. But the taste lingers and I cherish the moment. Paul doughnut was GOOOOD.

(72) 13th May: I decided to open up the T4P World platform to inspirations in my life – to write a blog that I’ll post on the platform, I reached out to a few magnificent humans today and received an overwhelming response! Cannot wait to read and share all these blog and stories that deserve to be heard. 

(73) 14th May: Kaaj’s dad (shoutout DipDip) sent me a few recommendations today for T4P as well as the ecotourism platform in Kenya I had no idea about. SUPER helpful and pretty shocking that I’m learning about such large related platforms after researching for the past 6 months. Life continues to surprise. 

(74) 15th May: Friyaaaay, had a zoom call with a coach today to hop on a year long workshop around personal and business development. This all came through the online conference I watched on the 1st of May and after which I got speaking to one of the speakers. Learning point: reach out, make conservation, beautiful things can develop.

Gratitude smiles
yoga and mediation during lockdown, keeping focus on body

A run before dropping some exciting news (which didn’t go to plan)

Finding time to tune into my mind and body – key!

(75) 16th May: Had a zoom call with amigos I made during my semester in Australia, after 3 years 9 of us reunited and it was oh so lovely. I’ve had some of my best memories thus far with these guys and to just chat over video call was awesome. Times were reminisced as we all sat safely at home over 7 countries. 

(76) 17th May: Today, I added this blog to the website after writing it in a word document for 75 days, it’s starting to feel more and more real. I wonder how many people will actually read this far – haha! (if you’re reading this right now, let me know – I’d be honoured).

(77) 18th May: So it’s mental health week and I had a crazy idea to create a well-being challenge – I set a goal to get on camera every day to announce the challenge of the day. This was one of my biggest fears, Akhil and Niam have done a brill job with JAB over the last few weeks so I reached out to them for advice, which was just get out there and it feels less scary. Elaine also helped the process. And damn right, once you’ve gone out there once, it’s  much less intimidating, the positive support helps too!

(78) 19th May: Fresh freshhhh bread was baked today – honey and almond. You know the smell and taste of that first warm bite – ye, a smile right there.

(79) 20th May: I worked on the Rafiki page today, adding in more profiles of great eco-ventures we’ve collab’d with and broooo, not being big headed or anything but I’m so happy with how this page has turned out!! Sleeeeek, if you think otherwise don’t let me know. :p 

(80) 21st May: This evening turned out to be a bit of a disaster, I thought we lost the whole website – I attempted to link the website up to mailchimp and the whole hosting got lost. The feeling of loosing something you’ve worked on for the last 3 months, it terrifying – I tell ya. GoDaddy and Prash/Jiten to the rescue tho – we back in action, a huge smile and sigh of relief. Also, had a mini picnic outside with mum today as the sun is blessssing us.

(81) 22nd May: Received confirmation that I can work from Kenya today! 

(82) 23rd May: SEO; search engine optimisation. A huge part of the equation if you want an online presence, to ensure people actually stumble upon your website on google etc. I underestimated the amount that needs to be done, to get to a good standard of SEO, another classic hole that digs further and further. Sat down and watched a few videos today and feeling a bit more confident!

(83) 24th May: I’ve moved houses a lot over the last few years, but not quite moved country for the foreseeable future.. I tell ya the later comes with a load of admin and paperwork, change of addresses etc etc. I’m not a fan of paperwork but managed to get a fair amount done today – woo!

(84) 25th May: implemented Akhil’s changes on the website today. Feeling more ready for this as the days go by…

(85) 26th May: BABY we’re .com!! Well – ish! Won the travel4purpose.com auction today, which means I am officially the owner of a .com website. The more and more people I told about .co.uk / .org said I need to push to get .com – I chased high and low, reached out to the owner etc etc and it happened!! SO HAPPY.

(86) 27th May: had an outdoor picnic for lunch today and it was lovely to give my eyes a break from the screen 🙂 

(87) 28th May: the power of social media – I had a call with a blogger from India today, he’s been blogging for years and is super experienced. We chatted a bit on insta dm’s and he offered to provide some advice over a phone call. I learnt a lot from this call. So grateful for a helpful online community. 

(88) 29th May: gathered up some confidence and emailed a handful of higher management at work today regarding a project to help locals in Kenya during the COVID situation. I received an almost instant reply from the COO of the company – lesson of the day, don’t be afraid, regardless of their position, we’re all human. 

(89) 30th May: had an idea for a giveaway today – to send some love to the T4P community while raising awareness about purchasing and supporting local small businesses. Gathered up some products and had a little photoshoot – lots of fun!

(90) 31st May: social media is HUGE. Added content to both the T4P facebook and youtube pages – who knows what will go on there, but I’ve been told I need to have a presence on every social media – joys!

(91) 1st June: getting more rafikis on board by the day and I blimmin’ love the feeling. Someone believing in the T4P brand and wanting to be associated with it. I collate all the emails to create the profiles on one or two days during the week and they’ve got to be my favourite days. Once again… community <3 

(92) 2nd June: as I said above, social media is vast and important. Today I managed to sit down and do some planning – what kind of messages I want to convey, how the social media platforms will link together etc etc. Planning brings organisation, organisation lets me breathe!

(93) 3rd June: I was given access to the .com domain name! We made the shift within wordpress and jheeeze, it was a thrilling moment. 

(94) 4th June: insta giveaway winner announced @gotravelandtalk, she was so so happy it warmed my heart. Kenyan gifts coming to the UK, watch out!

(95) 5th June: 3rd last day in London, it was all beginning to feel as the suitcases started filling and the 3 day countdown began. It was all happening so fast, in a time of uncertainty, I didn’t really know what to feel. One emotion I was sure of though; excitement. 

(95) 6th June: a day dedicated to cleaning – never have I appreciated professional cleaners so much. It’s hard work – esp scrubbing the tough london limescale… A clean window/ mirror satisfaction made up for it though! 

(96) 7th June: the day arrived, move-out day, time for change and new beginnings. Once again, it all came around so fast, it felt like I didn’t even have a mo to sit back and take it all in. In the cab on the way to the airbnb, I sat back as we passed Canary Wharf and London streets. I do adore London, it’s treated me well and I have so many fab memories here. I do strongly believe there is so much more beyond this and I’ll regret it if I don’t try. So here goes, come at me transition, show me your colours and I’ll show you mine 🙂

(97) 8th June: we’ve moved into a lovely little barn conversion in the suburbs of London, surrounded by nature and calm – a refreshing change from the city. We’re not sure how long we’ll be here for (till we can get on a flight out to Kenya) but hey, uncertainty always has its pros.

(98) 9th June: adding Rafiki pages for the community, the feeling of this growing is genuinely remarkable. Also shared a ‘Kenya bucketlist tick off’ on Instagram today, it went waaay further than I thought and I had loads of people reaching out for the template – exciting to feel the Kenyan love and interest!

(99) 10th June: SEO man, SEO. A whole fat can of worms were unleashed today. After weeks of putting it off, I went for it headfirst. And managed to get somewhere, I think? Definitely a lot more to discover in this space, but saving that for a later time ;p 

(100) 11th June: day 100 of smiles, woah – that’s a lot of smiling. That’s a reason to smile in itself, I reckon.

smiles all around
airbnb during lockdown

Right before my first insta live

Airbnb while we wait to fly home to Kenya

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