05/10/2014 10:55 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Plane Fell 5000 Feet From the Sky

There was sheer panic as the plane spiraled, and I had what I thought was my last conversation with my mom on this earth.

On Mother's Day, it's this frantic conversation I always think about because it defines my mother's indomitable spirit.

In that delirious conversation, I told my mom that my husband would do a good job of raising our four-year old, and she didn't miss a beat. She told me to "snap out of it. Planes are built to take on wind shear. We'll be fine."

(Excerpt from "The Gratitude Report," download at

It turns out we lived and were able to have that mother-daughter trip to Bali after all. It turns out I had a chance to really get to know my mom because only when we had flown 8,465 miles, when I was half the world away, did I really see my her.

From that side of the world, with the chaos of the family gatherings absent, she showed herself as quite the adventurer. But the biggest surprise was realizing that my mom is a stand-up comic. Who knew? Her best one-liner: "Everybody has their idiot-syncracies."

My mom made me laugh every day, particularly when we were in Ubud.

We stayed at a place with a balcony that opened to tiered rice paddies below, a gorgeous patchwork of green. Every day my mom wanted to sit with me on the balcony. "Come on," she said. "Let's watch the rice grow."

Watching the rice grow was ridiculously fun. I loved sitting beside the woman who was the first to greet me in this world after being tethered together by an umbilical cord during my nine-month incubation.

Today I realize there is still an umbilical cord between us, a connection that runs deep.

I ask my intuition, which I refer to as my woman in the mirror, what's up with this mother/daughter connection?

She laughs, the woman in the mirror, and then says, "mothers are your everything. They give you life and sustenance -- milk on tap -- but, more importantly, your first glimpse of yourself.

But here's the catch: If you're not careful, you could spend your entire life seeing yourself through your mother's eyes. Don't. Be a wild thing, a parachuting-live-on- the-edge sort of creature if that's what it takes, but by all means be an independent thinker when it comes to your reflection. Once you've done this, the umbilical cord will be pure, a sacred bond, your most enduring and endearing relationship.

This woman was the vessel that transported you here. She weathered morning sickness and horrendous labor pains to witness your first breath.

I listen, surprised at how one question could spur such an involved answer.

I realize I just never quite thought it through. But now it makes perfect sense why I'm so grateful for this woman, the one who invented the pastime of watching the rice grow.

This is an excerpt from "The Gratitude Report," download entire book at