Breaking Down Before Breaking Through

Mastermind Blog Of the Month
By Coach Derith Cass

When your journey starts with a breakdown, the only way out is a breakthrough

We arrived at the airport without a hitch, smiling, laughing, and greeting both familiar and new faces as we anticipated what would undoubtedly be an epic adventure.

The first flight was easy peasy. The moments between wheels up and wheels down on the second flight flew by effortlessly.

We landed in Taos, the land of enchantment, New Mexico’s “Soul of the Southwest.” A place with a different pace, far away from the everyday. A place to nourish your soul.

Ruben, our driver, met us at baggage claim with a big sign that said, “FIERCE”, and we knew we were in for a treat. So, we all grabbed our seats on the bus, and we were off!

And then… the breakdown.

Our bus overheated 10 miles away from our destination, so we had to pull over, assess the situation and wait for backup. The challenge: We were in the middle of nowhere! We barely had a cell signal as we frantically tried to figure out a solution. No Ubers, no taxis, no nothin’! The backup bus was on its way, but it was coming from Santa Fe which was 90 minutes south of us. Ah yes, the adventure was beginning…

So, what do you do? You choose to make the best of it.

You soak up Mother Nature.
You take in the view.
You make funny videos.
You share your snacks… side note, black licorice is not a crowd-pleasing snack, so I had that one all to myself…
You lead a meditation in the back of the bus. You take funny photos.
You remember that THIS is the adventure.

Our tribe handled this detour like champs! They were calmly getting on and off the bus to chat, explore, find the perfect bathroom bush, take photos, and feel the palpable spirit of the extraordinary southwest.

And then, at last, almost two hours later, our backup bus arrived, and we were finally on our way.

We arrived at Blue Sky Retreat Center 3 ½ hours later than planned, tired, hungry, a bit disheveled, and eager to put the day behind us and start fresh tomorrow.

And that’s what we did
We were ready for our breakthrough.

We woke up the next morning rested, at peace and ready to experience the magic that was in store for us in the days ahead.

We kicked off our breathwork and journaling practice that morning with the theme of “reflection.” We guided our group to reflect on where we’ve been, what feels easy, what feels stuck, what we’re ready to let go of and what we need to give ourselves credit for.

The ink was flowing…and the tears were, too. It was a deliciously powerful energy.

What I love about this work is how fully we can all tap in when we join together in these moments of pause. It’s like you are finally given permission to take off the armor, let go of the filters, and just be you, as you are.

Over the next three days we continued to peel back the layers, share and awaken the divine feminine wisdom within through countless ways that can only be understood by experiencing it yourself.

Our Blue Sky Retreat was a true meeting of minds. A coming together of heart-centered, fierce women who chose to share not only themselves, but to share in their collective wisdom and insights as we reflected, reconnected, and reimagined what was possible for each of us.

As my own ink overflowed on my journal pages during our 4 ½ day retreat, I captured these lessons:

  1. Now is not forever

    In the moments we experience struggle, it’s easy to believe that this pain will last. That somehow, we’re stuck in this feeling and there’s no way out.

    The moment we heard the warning beep from the front of the bus, the fear set in. What are we going to do? How are we going to recover? Will our tribe be upset? Will this be the end of us? What now?

    So, we got out of the bus, grounded down by feeling our feet on the earth, and reminded ourselves that everything is temporary and “this too shall pass.”

    Now is not forever so when things are good, soak up every single drop and when things are not so good, trust that it will end soon.
  1. Teamwork allows you to exhaust all resources

    As we stood on the side of the road and received the update that it would be at least 90 minutes before our backup bus would arrive, our ladies pulled out their phones and started the search.

    We searched for Ubers, taxis, other transportation companies, and private drivers… you name it.

    When that didn’t yield any solutions, we put our heads together and brainstormed endlessly to see what else we could come up with.

    After much discussion and many optimistic attempts, we high-fived each other as we realized we had exhausted all resources as a team. So, we chose to soak up the time we had right here in Mother Nature taking in the spectacular view as we waited for backup.
  2. Focus on what you can control

    Like I mentioned above, we turned this bonus time into photo ops, bonding, interesting conversations, snack time, sharing portable phone batteries, scoping out the best incognito places to go to the bathroom, journaled, laughed, sang, meditated, and focused on what we CAN do.

    That was the game changer.

    We realized that focusing on what was within our control was the only way to move through this detour with peace, patience, and grace.
  1. Going well doesn’t mean going as planned.

    Needless to say, this breakdown was not part of the plan, and as one of the leaders, it threw me for a loop. I had my own emotional breakdown the following morning and reached out to my best friend, mentor, and fiancé, Fran Avila.

    I frantically texted him that next morning, shared what happened, and said I needed his intuitive mind to help me get centered. He texted back, “Going well doesn’t mean going as planned.”

    Wow, that one got me. It interrupted my downward spiral immediately. He was right.

    He continued to say, “You are prepared. You are excited. They are ready. Just share your love.” I mean, could there be a better response? I think not!

    Turns out that bonus time on the side of the road ended up being one of our favorite memories from our retreat. We bonded as a tribe, we got to know each other, and it set the tone for the rest of our time together to move through this experience as a team.

    Going as planned? Not all. Going well? Even better than we could’ve imagined.

FIERCE is based on the belief that when women come together, what’s created is something so strong, so powerful, we can only call it FIERCE; and through this creation, we have no choice but to break through what’s been holding us back from stepping into our full power.

Our breakdown directly led to our breakthrough.

Because together, we are substantially more than the sum of our parts.

We’re in this together. It’s about coming from a place of generosity and helping each other as we connect, explore, and soak it all up. There’s a reason they say, “a rising tide lifts all boats.”

And baby, we rose, individually and wholeheartedly together.

~ Coach D. xo

Derith Cass, aka Coach D., is a powerful presenter, mindset shifter, habit change specialist, women’s wellness coach, and a lover of the human connection. Her work centers around banding women together as a fierce tribe and transforming perspectives of what is possible so we can fully step into the life that is waiting for us.

Through Coach D’s presentations, women’s retreats, habit coaching programs (both group and individual), and fitness classes, countless stories have emerged about women breaking through what’s been holding them back by embracing lasting change, choosing to show up for themselves, getting back up when they fall, and celebrating the palpable power of community.

Her motto is: “All women. All ages. All stories. All destinations.”

This is what she built FIERCE by Choice, LLC (her passion-project-turned-business) on and the root of everything she teaches.

For over 20 years, Coach D. has shared her passion for empowering women to fiercely love the skin they’re in. From young girls to grandmothers and every age in between, Coach D. teaches you how to tap into that deep inner wisdom we all have, the place where all the answers are, so you have the tools to architect a life you love!

Instagram: @fiercecoachd
Facebook: @fiercecoachd & Derith Kendall Cass

About the Author

Todd Durkin, MA, is a world-renown trainer, coach, author and motivational keynote speaker who trains dozens of elite, high-profile NFL, MLB, and MMA athletes, including two Super Bowl MVPs, one NFL League MVP, Olympic gold medalists, Heisman Trophy winners, and MMA champions. Todd is a 2-Time Trainer of the Year, the 2017 Jack LaLanne Award recipient, the 2018 Canfitpro International Presenter of the Year, a member of the Under Armour Training Team, and a Top-100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness.

Todd was a featured trainer on the popular TV show, NBC STRONG, which is now airing on Netflix. His award-winning gym, Fitness Quest 10 in San Diego, CA, is a Top-10 Gym in America, and his 3 best-selling books, Get Your Mind Right, The WOW BOOK, and The IMPACT Body Plan, have both changed thousands of people’s lives. If you would like to get motivated and inspired now, you can pick these books up at, or if you would like a signed copy, please purchase at
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