Blood, Hard Work, and a First Class Upgrade (A True Story)

Hello from Paris, the city of love, lights, and all things fashionable.  I am here for a conference of masterful women, entrepreneurs all, and each of us are doing what we do to make a difference in the world for other women.  Imagine the synergy we are creating all gathered together and masterminding about how we can collaborate, transform, and just plain do things better!  It’s good, I’m telling you!

Now, being almost 8 months pregnant on an international voyage is no small feat (yes, for those of you who didn’t know, I am expecting again).  Comfort is priority, so when I booked my flight I paid the extra $149 for the Economy Comfort+ seat on my flight.  Then I began visualizing, every day, what an upgrade to First Class would be like, and I sent out rockets of desire for that to happen for me.  I know, who doesn’t wish for a first class upgrade, right?  But seriously, it’s happened to me before on an international flight, it’s not that absurd of a wish.

Well, I was actually quite comfortable in my Comfort+ seat and doubly happy because the two seats next to me were empty.  Ok, it’s not first class, I thought to myself, but it’s pretty dang nice to have all this room to myself.  I made myself as comfortable as possible and tried to get some sleep.  

About five hours into the flight I was abruptly awakened by the unmistakable sound of a human body landing with a thud on the ground. 

I jumped out of my seat to find that a woman had passed out literally right next to my seat.  She lay there face down, not moving.  As a doctor with a lot of emergency room experience, I knew I was on.  Everyone around was stunned into paralysis, so I had to start directing people what to do.  When the woman began to come-to and tried to sit up, it was quite clear that she had passed out cold and that she had broken her fall with her face.  Blood was everywhere and she was still bleeding profusely from her nose.

After I directed the flight attendant to get a first-aid kit and some gloves, I went to work assessing the lady.  Once the first-aid kit arrived I took her vital signs and examined her.  To make a long story short, she had a very low heart rate and blood pressure, which I was quite concerned could mean she was having some cardiac problems.  The problem was that we were 36,000 feet in the air somewhere between New Foundland and Greenland, with almost 5 hours left in our flight to Paris.

After monitoring her for a good twenty minutes and making her drink a bottle of water, her blood pressure had improved nicely, but her heart rate was still quite low.  With the head flight attendant we decided that moving her to the first class cabin where there was a seat in which she could fully recline was the best thing to do.  There also just so happened to be another free seat next to hers where I could stay to keep my eyes on her for the remainder of the trip.

After we got this unfortunate woman settled in her new seat and I was feeling certain that she was going to be stable for me, I went back to my economy seat and began collecting my things.  As I walked back up to the first class cabin, I chuckled to myself as I looked down at my blood-stained pants and thought about my previous visualizations of a first class upgrade.  This was definitely not how I envisioned it happening.

To make a long story short, the woman made it without further incident to Paris, where a team of paramedics was waiting for us when we landed.  The five hours in first class were not exactly what I had in mind and I definitely did not get to kick back and enjoy the lay-flat seat or the complimentary cocktails.  But the irony of the situation was not lost on me.  When things like that happen to me I go into full-on reflection mode to make sure that I am getting the lesson that is being presented to me to learn.  

In this case, it didn’t take long to get the picture and to understand what this pretty crazy situation was presenting to me — which was a pretty in-your-face lesson about what it takes to get what you want.  You see, we so often are praying for the first class upgrade in our lives, whatever that may be for us. Maybe it’s landing the lead on the big project or the signing the client, maybe it’s meeting your soul mate and the man of your dreams, perhaps it’s having the New York Times Best Seller (even though you haven’t even started writing your book and no one even knows your name) or maybe the real first-class upgrade for you means scraping it all and opting for the simple life, out of the rat-race, out of town, flat-out done with all of it.

The question becomes what are you willing to do to get that first-class upgrade?  Because my dear, they very seldom come floating down from the sky and land in your lap, regardless of the amount of woo-woo visualization we may do.  The truth of the matter is that first-class upgrades are expensive, right?  What amount of blood and hard work are you willing to trade to get what you want?  

And here’s the kicker — once you get there, once you’re sitting in that lay-flat seat with cocktail in hand watching a movie on your big screen, what are you willing to do to stay there?  What are you willing to do so that first-class becomes a way of life and not a fluke glitch in the system?  Because once the flight is over, and you’ve tasted life in first class, it’s dang hard to go back to sitting in the cramped, stifling seats in economy, isn’t it?  You want more.  The problem is that most people will resort to wishful thinking about how to get that more, instead of laying down more of the hard work that it took to get there in the first place.

Just like there’s no such thing as an overnight success, there’s also no such thing as “arriving.”  You don’t get to have everything you want and not have to work to keep it.  Not with love, relationships, the bomb job, or the dream house.  Sometimes it’s tempting to live in that dream reality, but it’s just not, well, all.  Why do you think there are so many “flash in the pan” successes out there?  Don’t fall into the trap of believing you can kick back and enjoy smooth sailing for the rest of your life based on a few successes.  Keep going, there’s more, there’s always more.  A rolling stone gathers no moss, right?  Keep evolving.

I’m not saying that I’m not all for pausing and celebrating the accomplishment of a milestone, even the small ones can be glorious, I know.  In fact, pausing, resting, celebrating are all vital parts of living a fulfilled life and should not be missed.  Celebration, however, does not constitute resting on your laurels for long.  This is a key thing to remember.

If you want a first-class life, you’ve got to be willing to do what it takes to make it happen.  Then you have to be open to how it shows up, and when you get what you’ve been working for, you’ve got to do what it takes to keep the dream alive.


What would be a first-class upgrade for your life, your relationships, your health, your career?

What are you willing to do to make that happen for yourself, specifically?

Are you ready and willing to do what it takes to keep that dream alive once you have it, truly?

Here’s to first-class tickets to Paris, blood, sweat and hard work.  To sometimes getting to enjoy the complimentary cocktails and lay-flat seats...and to sometimes just plain working hard in order to sit in that first-class seat in the first place.  Cheers!


Dr. Erin Martin