Travel, Chill and Trust Yourself Personal take-aways from Denise Duffield-Thomas' Business Reset Workshop in London

Katja Brunkhorst October 24, 2019


…that is what one of the slides in denise duffield-thomas’ presentation said – and it couldn’t have been more right.

last week, i attended her london live event, having been a fan of her books, and a member of her “lucky bee” money mindset bootcamp, for a couple of years. (btw, i am writing this rather long post without those pesky caps ON PURPOSE to, you know, demonstrate the CHILL aspect of what i’m about to relate here.)

– HELL yeah!


denise duffield-thomas, chill and prosper london

i had been debating whether or not to attend “chill and prosper” – even though i’d already snapped up the ticket, the MINUTE they were up for sale.

never mind crashing after a super exhausting first real launch (WHOA, had we been underestimating what that takes…!), a spot of acute, tax-related debt and a wayyyy-to-busy schedule since and for weeks – i’ve been having weird and hefty stomach aches for 3 weeks, so i went into the A&E in germany on my doctor’s orders on the night before i was due to leave for london: “you’re not flying anywhere tomorrow, we have to rule out acute appendicitis.” (see how spacing makes ALL the difference here? that pain was anything but “a cute” one!)

bright idea travel

it wasn’t that, thank feck, but they still wanted to keep me in overnight to do a few check-ups. i asked whether it was OK to do those next week instead and the docs said: “not ideal, you ought to just be resting, but sure…go ahead.”

feel the fear – and do it anyway

so ahead i went, despite feeling apprehensive about it – health, money and time stuff all spoke loudly against it. never mind my utter reluctance to fly – i normally try to avoid it wherever i can! also, saying YES to that trip meant coming back to london, home for 9 formative years during my twenties. i hadn’t been back in 13 years and SO MANY MEMORIES were catching up with me from the moment i saw that old familiar shape of the thames from the plane window…and disembarking from the heathrow express at paddington, i was knocked about by people rushing past me and reminded very swiftly of the pace of the place, still as knackering as it is inspiring.

bright idea travel

bright idea travel

i made my way to the hotel, successfully avoiding both the tube and getting forced into a minicab by aggressive strangers, and settled in my tiny room (i mean, i could touch BOTH walls at the same time). then, waking up the morning of the event, i notice the place where they stuck the needle in at the hospital is all swollen and really painful. great! something to distract me from the bellyache.

after a half-hour walk from my quarters in bloomsbury, right by senate house library, where i spent a large part of the nineties, i arrive at regent’s university on a glorious autumn morning. yay! i have managed to not get run over; i still look the wrong way when crossing a street after all those years, but i guess my guardian angel got more sleep than i did.

at the event, i’m tired and still in quite some discomfort. i give myself permission to not have to network and chat to strangers (like i normally would) or do anything much – but to my initial horror, i find i am turning fully into my HSP/introvert self, unable to even utter the ONE question i really feel called to be asking (feedback on my “VIP OFFER” of a 3-month-empowerment-program featuring a 3-day retreat on my heart-island of texel in the dutch north sea next year, combining the branding & website work i do, as a writer, with my designer husband – and my beloved yoga: some of the super cool women who attended my first yoga retreat in march are already asking when & where the next one will be!). nope – can’t do it!

on bullshit excuses

what’s super interesting, on that note, is the “bullshit excuses” we tend to come up with for why we’re not allowed or supposed to be successful. one lady admits: “because i live in reading…?”, and we all laugh with her, but then again: don’t i have similarly silly BS excuses – like: “my voice is too high”, or “i live in osnabrück”? i love that sharing aspect of the conference and how liberating it is to truly FEEL: “i’m not the only one!”

anyway, my discomfort on that day is real, so it’s OK that i just sit with my biz mate helen and later, on stage with Denise DT herself, i find i’m suddenly waffling at her (sorry!) – so much to say, but i left it too late. and i feel for her – so many photos, her face must hurt from smiling so much!

so back at he hotel, fully wiped out, i cry a little from the pain and the realization i’m running around like a headless chicken at the moment, not walking the talk i tend to give my yoga students myself. and that i should probably have stayed at home for this one (never mind costs for plane, trains, hotel and event). just chilled with my husband (our kid is with her nan all of this week, which is a first), gotten some much needed downtime for intimacy back and some longe overdue work stuff done.

i go to bed berating myself for being all over the place and sleep fitfully again – even though chanting the sanskrit syllables NA-MA-MA – “not mine” – in my head on each out-breath helps me go back to snoozing each time i wake up fro the pain in my arm or the turmoil in my head again. (yoga works!)

tomorrow is a new day

and then, the next morning, the pain is better…and at breakfast, i’m placed at the table of this super cool 69-year-old lady from the states, who’s ex-uni of california and, it turns out, also a rock musician, into shaman stuff, works with young offenders (she’s wearing a t-shirt that says “jugs not jail”!), a climate activist AND a double leo!

bright idea travel

i’m not kidding, it feels like we were separated at birth. instant soul mates! we chat for ages about what’s wrong with the world and what must be done to put it to rights (IDEALIST WOMEN, UNITE!). and we make a date for this heavy 60s fuzz rock night that evening AND will join the anti-brexit march together the next day! EVERYTHING IS IN FLUX or what?

the four agreements

marcia, that’s the cool cali chick’s name, shares with me the four agreements, ancient toltec wisdom re-told by don miguel ruiz, that sound a lot like the niyamas of yoga to me:

Be Impeccable With Your Word
Don’t Take Anything Personally
Don’t Make Assumptions
Always Do Your Best

as marcia says, they “reveal the source of self-limiting beliefs that rob us of joy and create needless suffering, and are a powerful code of conduct that can transform our lives to a new experience of freedom.” i could not love this more and am so thrilled to have met this kindred spirit in such a serendipitous manner – over a full english (veggie, in my case) in a small, family-run gower st hotel.

my learning – apart from the golden denise-style biz advice i cannot wait to implement, such as:

  1. love and approve of yourself, no matter what
  2. share what you know
  3. make offers (free or expensive)?

you already know your truth

SIMPLY, and once again (the learning never stops), my own realization:

I CONTAIN MULTITUDES. i can be screaming on stage at one of my punk rock shows. and i can be terrified of asking even one small question in a roomful of warm, welcoming women. and that’s OK!

you don’t have to be perfect, happy and healthy ALL the time (although we strive to be in that original state of SVASTHA as much as possible, obvs). just stay in the room – trust the process of TIME – and love and approve of yourself NO MATTER WHAT (this really cannot be repeated often enough).

most importantly: it’s perfectly OK to be a work in progress myself, with better days, fab days and not so great ones, and still guide others on their path. as long as we keep showing up each day and give it a chance! and as long as you remember who you are – at times, we need to reconnect with who we were supposed to be becoming all along.

time to meet your younger self?

for example, last night, i met my younger self. (i moved hotels for the last two nights of my stay, back to my old stomping ground where i was going to sleep above a pub right behind the local theatre.) i walked the streets of hackney she moved to exactly 25 years ago.

bright idea travel

bright idea travel

“be careful out there!”, the cool young pub landlady  had told me and my friend dave, “crime’s gone up lately, it used to be quite good for a while, but now it’s nearly as bad as the nineties because people are getting poorer.”

try the london way of walking

dave and i exchanged a glance and told her that we lived here during the nineties. she actually looked impressed. “not to worry, i remember the london way to walk”, i said, “just fast and purposeful like you totally know where you’re going – and as though you’re slightly pissed off!”

she grinned and went: “yeah, exactly, just do that then. there’ve been a lot of muggings, even right here on mare street.” so as we leave the old ship in the direction of helgi’s, at the junction with well street – luckily, the dolphin remains still, unharmed by gentrification and right next to the new, hip place –

missi at helgi's - best g & t's in london!

i walk my aggressive london walk. fast and purposeful like i totally know where i’m going. and there she is – walking beside me. and i remember i am her still: young, thirsty for life, ready to take on the world. full of joy. fearless! “aggressive”, after all, comes from the latin “ad gredi” – to go towards something. and if you don’t know that yet – fake it til you make it.

know what makes you come alive

and right now, i’m sitting here in one of my other natural habitats – a waterstone’s bookshop on gower street – happily, quietly browsing, getting lost in the wondrous world of books, reading and writing (seriously, you could leave me here for a week), waiting for a friend who is also a writer and a yoga teacher and who i will have such a rich, lively and enlivening conversation which it will make my head and heart hum for days to come.

bright idea travel

bright idea travel

bright idea travel

bright idea travel

bright idea travel

a little gratitude goes a long way

so thanks, me, for feeling all kinds of fear and showing up anyway. thanks, denise, for a beautiful event, some seriously deep LIVE magic and the presence of so many gorgeous, inspiring bees IRL. thanks, helen, for sitting with me and being a familiar face when pain took me out of my body briefly and made me think i didn’t belong. thanks, marcia, dave and sophie, for the kind of truly cultured conversation that i hadn’t realized i had been craving so much. thanks, london, you sexy beast, for forming a part of me i’ll always have access to, in punk-sweat, street grease and the muck of the thames. and please, britain, continue to say in a majority of voices of reason, love and enlightenment: BOLLOCKS TO BREXIT!

bright idea travel

bright idea travel

bright idea travel

bright idea travel

bright idea travel

bright idea travel

and if you, whoever you may be, actually read all of this: thank you. leave me a note or give me a bell if you feel called to do so, i would love to connect IRL with more kindred spirits, hence this attempt of showing up here, openly.

OM and rock ON!


  1. Kelly on November 5, 2019 at 3:09 pm

    I’m so happy you didn’t sell your ticket and not come. Loved reading about your journey and got teary over your younger self stomping around (looking slightly pissed off) in your own good.
    I’m glad the cat sitting didn’t work out as it would have felt like you were defying doctors wishes out of obligation to them rather doing it for YOU.

    • Katja Brunkhorst on November 5, 2019 at 3:19 pm

      kelly! thanks for reading this NOVEL. 🙂 and thanks for, you know, just BEING in general. x

  2. Angele Close on November 5, 2019 at 3:56 pm

    Love this! Thank you for sharing how we teachers are also human – #debunkimpostersyndrome
    Cheers sister!

    • Katja Brunkhorst on November 5, 2019 at 4:58 pm

      angele! thank you – that means a lot, especially coming from you. i truly admire your work! and i’m touched you perceive my little contribution as helping to debunk imposter syndrome – hadn’t even thought of it that way but am all the more thrilled for that. i’ve suffered from it most of my life and see so many others who are, too. time to end this shit! 🙂

  3. Annika on June 19, 2020 at 7:07 am

    Thank you for being YOU with all your 💜multitudes💜 and sharing the story with us.
    Liebe & Hiebe

    • Katja Brunkhorst on June 21, 2020 at 10:18 am

      Annika, you don’t even know how much you rock (!) and how powerful you really are…proud to know you, you gem of a Saarlänner! <3

  4. Claire Quant on June 21, 2020 at 2:42 am

    So enjoyed reading this. Taking me back to that day of investing in ourselves with Denise D-T. I too lived in London and can swing into action with my London walk every time I return to the city! I too forgave myself for becoming introverted and not asking a question that day. Sadly Brexit happened but I am confident that despite everything going on in our world at present as women we can make a difference. I love serendipity – the word, the meaning, the consequences. Buying that ticket took me to London, to Money Bootcamp, to Iceland for Sigrun’s summit (albeit virtual) and to SOMBA and then to your blog. Life is certainly funny and serendipitous 🍑 Thank you.

    • Katja Brunkhorst on June 21, 2020 at 10:17 am

      Claire! Thank YOU for taking the time to read that actual NOVEL. So we’re SOMBA sisters and fellow bees? Love it! When did you live in London, and where? Moi: Mostly Hackney, 1994-2003. Hugs!

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