Have you ever stopped to wonder how many choices each of us face every day? I have many times. We choose to be optimistic or pessimistic. We choose to be pleasant to people or unpleasant. Contrary to what some may think, I believe it’s a choice to be stressed about situations or not to be stressed. Anyone reading this can surely relate that these simple choices are made every day of our lives.

A week ago I had a choice to make. I was preparing to visit my parents out of state for the Thanksgiving holiday. My mother is battling cancer for the fourth time and my father is, well, getting old. The last time I visited was in 2007 after I completed a nearby assignment and was going to spend a couple days with them. A call to cover the first major of the LPGA tour cut that visit short. So when the phone rang last Monday with a magazine assignment for a couple of days over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, I had a choice to make. Do I cut my visit short with my parents again and take the job or do I spurn the assignment during an economically trying time to spend time with family?

My first choice was to be stressed. Yes, that’s right. There’s no shame in admitting it. I looked to my wife for the answer (uh, no help there), asked for a bit of time to think about it and probably huffed and puffed like a sulking child. (It was a good assignment after all). However, I had one thing working for me that is fairly rare in the freelance world, and that’s why I decided to blog about it.

That one factor made the decision easy and ultimately relieved the stress from my decision. And that factor was the editor who called me with the job. When I told her I had planned to be with my parents, she almost instantaneously insisted I not cut the time short. I’m blessed to have that sort of a working relationship with her and it only comes with time and mutual respect. I’ve worked with her for many years now and respect her for many reasons, least of which is how she respects and fights for her photographers, not just me. Her respect for me and my choice in this situation made my decision easier. I definitely wanted to shoot the job, but knew it was the right choice to turn it down to be with my ailing mother and father for the holiday. To paraphrase the editor, she told me you’ll never remember this job but you’ll always remember Thanksgiving with your parents.

That’s rare, folks. I made the right choice, but had it not been for a understanding, talented editor showing me respect, I would have surely been stressed the whole time I was visiting my family. Instead, I thoroughly enjoyed my holiday with them and gave very little thought to the job I turned down.