A Small Good Thing
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My story on How to Stop Questioning Your Journey and Move Forward with Confidence

"I am learning to get out of my own way, to put the self–doubt and anger to rest, and to embrace this part of the journey."


By Pamela Tanner Boll

Link to original article on Everyday Power Blog

The first step to getting on with your journey is to figure out which one you are on. Now, I know, that sounds pretty basic. But, if you are anything like me, you might be surprised at how often you think you are on one path and find—Nope. You are on another.

Earlier this year, I decided to get in shape. I stepped on the scale to find I was heavier than I had ever been. The extra inches around my belly (and everywhere else, to be honest) belied the notion of "muscle gain." So, I got myself a personal trainer. I figured if I spent the money, I would be motivated. I went to four out of the ten sessions before quitting. The trainer was working me hard and I balked.

But, I still wanted to "get into shape." I had always prided myself on being strong, lean and fit. But, I was too tired to work out. Spent evenings in what felt like well-deserved rest lolling on the couch binging on TV shows. My cat kept me company. I drank red wine and ate nuts and maybe an apple for dinner. Too tired to cook.

So, what was going on? It slowly dawned on me over the next few months as I attempted over and over to "get back in shape" that I was on another journey.

I am a documentary film-maker. A year ago, I finished making A Small Good Thing, a film that asks "what makes a good life?" This film follows six people as they change their lives to live with a closer connection to their community, to nature and to their purpose.


The film has been a labor of love. It took three years to make, during which, I had to learn to hold on to my vision in the face of enormous self-doubt and contention. People in the industry questioned the manner in which I worked as well as the stories and the themes of the film.

After much struggle on the set, I let go of one of my team. He was a friend. He has not forgiven me. Then, a year later, I let go of two other key players. I wondered if I even knew how to make a film. I closed down the production and spent some time away by myself. After four months, I realized that the film did need to be made and I was the one to do it. I found some good people to work with and the film is finished.

A Small Good Thing went out into the world on the Festival Circuit last spring. The reception from audiences was good. We won some awards. The critics liked us.

But, the film was not sold for Distribution.

Now, this is not uncommon for independent films. I knew this. My new team and I decided we would set off on a self-distribution course.

The problem was that I did not WANT to distribute the film myself. I was tired. I wanted a break. And more than that, I was resentful that no one wanted to purchase the film. Despite knowing better, I felt personally rejected. Maybe the film was no good.

So, I was hurt. Angry. And yet, I KNEW BETTER.

Many good films have trouble finding their audiences. STILL. I fought with myself about doing this work. I did not even have to do so much work as I had a brilliant team who managed well.

I hated that I was angry. Hated myself for not ‘bucking up.’For not getting on with things. So, this inner conflict set me on a course of comfort eating. Of watching TV shows where everything worked out at the end of the episode. It set me up to sleep poorly.

I was worn out.

Now, I am again, on a quiet retreat and find that aha! I have to learn to be kinder to myself. If I was feeling hurt by the lack of sales, well…that was okay, but I needed to acknowledge the reality of this feeling. Cry. Grieve. Complain. Then, do the work of getting the film out or quit.

Nobody was forcing me to make movies….

So, I found I was on the journey of self-discovery. The journey for me is—how do you do work you feel called to do when you’re not sure anybody cares? And what I found was that I could not let this film disappear after a few screenings and Festivals.

The film needs to be seen. It contains a message of renewal and courage that people want. I want that message.

So, I am learning to get out of my own way, to put the self–doubt and anger to rest and to embrace this part of the journey.

And, I have begun to exercise again. Slowly at first, then being me, I went too hard and could hardly walk. BE KIND! Know your limits. Still learning.

I have re-discovered the best reason to exercise and eat well: taking good care of myself gives me the strength to do this work. Otherwise, I lose my curiosity about the world. 

And, A Small Good Thing deserves a chance. It is not about me. Whether folks recognize that I made a good movie or not does not matter. It is about the film.

So, my brilliant team (who go about promoting and blogging and writing emails to engage new audiences despite my slothfulness and my groaning about being tired) and I are getting the film out.

That is a small good thing. It’s actually a great good thing. Audience response has been amazing. People love this film and want to share it with their communities. 

And, oh! I have lost four pounds :-)


This article was originally published on Everyday Power Blog: 



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