Wednesday was my birthday, and so I have been thinking about my mom more than usual this week. It was a no-brainer that she'd be the object of today's TGIF gratitude post. TGIF: Mom!I am grateful to my mom for her (literally) formative role in the person I am. She raised me with an incredibly loving and empowering warmth that enabled me to grow confident while retaining humility, and adventuresome and optimistic, but still pragmatic. Further, her own curiosity and diversity of interests exposed me to the same breadth of experience. She facilitated my involvement with hobbies from horseback riding to mediation, lunches from grilled tempeh to salami and cheese sandwiches on Wonder bread, and dinner table conversations from Fifth Avenue overlooking Central Park to campfires in northern Vermont. I credit this early range of realities for the adaptability that has allowed me to live, work, and thrive in 44 different countries.

I guess it's any mother's job, but my mom is the best kind of believer (the value of which I wrote about last week) I could want for myself and my work. The important part of her belief in me is that she shields me from the concerns or fears that I know she must have as a result of some of the choices I've made. For example, choosing to work and live in Palestine, marry my Italian boyfriend at a relatively young age, or start a business just as my student loans came due. I know that she - as any sane onlooker much less mother - must have had vivid fantasies of how any of these things could have gone quite wrong. And yet, she always stays close, not in a look-the-other-way-and-pretend-its-ok kind of way, but in a realistic while supportive and engaged way.

And finally, she's an incredible friend. Though life gets hectic and our hours are often different, even now that we live in the same time zone, we make opportunities for quality time, whether massages in New York, yoga trips in India, or BBQs at home on the lake.