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Paul Garrett

Co-creator of Total Soulful Journey, award winning documentary filmmaker, internationally published photographer, writer, screenwriter, blogger, proud father, world traveler, defender of animals, entrepreneur, explorer, nature lover, cook and all around happy person.

 

I grew up in a medium size Midwestern town in the USA with a camera in my hand and a dream of one day working in the movie business in Los Angeles. Thanks to my adventurous parents, I got to visit all 50 states, most of the providences of Canada, as well as Mexico, Guatemala, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, Germany, Austria and Switzerland by the Time that I was a senior in high school. Travel and photography were in my blood from my very beginnings and have shaped who I have become today.

During my first high school trip to Germany, my host family in Stuttgart took me one evening on a walk up a hill that was created from the bombed out rubble of the city after World War II. The father of my host family was around the same age as my uncle who passed through Stuttgart with the US Army during that war. They would have been mortal enemies had they met face to face and yet this family was so kind and warm to me. I remember at that moment thinking how families all over the world have the same basic desires as my own family. We all want to live in peace and take care of each other. And then I had a premonition flash in my mind that the Berlin Wall would one day come down, and ten years later it happened. This changed my way of thinking and opened my eyes about humanity. Since then I have traveled to many countries around the world where I have had similar warm and friendly experiences with local people in Great Britain, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Kenya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Greece, Cambodia and India. Travel opened up my eyes back then and continues to expand my heart and my mind today.

 Somewhere in India

Somewhere in India

 Massai village in Tanzania

Massai village in Tanzania

I also met my high school sweetheart during my senior year in high school while performing in the musical, "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying." She later revealed that within three months of us dating that she had told herself that she was going to marry me and she was right. After completing her masters degree in Michigan, we high tailed it across the USA in our two Hondas and began our lives in Los Angeles where I worked behind the scenes on feature films and on national television shows for two major Hollywood studios. This was the beginning of my dream coming true. After living in LA for a year, we moved across town to Manhattan Beach. Before our final load was in the moving truck, my wife became deathly sick. This was very scary because we were on our own far from family support and the doctors were struggling to come up with a diagnosis.  Life throws us all kinds of surprises, and this was definitely not one that we had counted on. Our plan was to work for five years, save our money, buy a house and build up our careers before having children. My wife, however, was told by a doctor that if we wanted children we better start creating our family right away.

Raising two kids in Los Angeles was tough, mainly because the cost of living is so high. It also impacted my career at the film studio because I was the one who had to take them to daycare and pick them up after work since my wife traveled often and her office was a ninety minute drive across LA from our home. We both loved having children, but our lives were super hectic and often stressful. 

Over the years the rushed life of the city put a strain on our lives. It also seemed insane that we were paying a fortune to have other people raise our kids at daycare. Out of the blue one Easter morning, my wife got a phone call from an employer wanting her to fly up for an interview. We had considered moving to Oregon one day, but I was hoping to work in Los Angeles long enough to sell one of my screenplays. Life had other plans for us, however, and my wife got the job in Oregon.

I stayed in LA with our kids while our house was being sold and my wife moved to Oregon a month ahead of us to start her job. Closing down our house was tough on my own and so was the thousand mile drive north with two little kids. Our daughter was around 18 months old and she kept escaping from her carseat while I was driving. She was a little Houdini in the making and very proud of her ability to break free. When I finally pulled into the garage of our new townhouse, exhausted and frazzled, I was very happy to see my wife come out to greet us. Oddly there was no welcoming hug, just a strange and distant energy as she welcomed our kids and ushered them into our new home. Oh shit...

You can guess what was going on so I will leave the details for another post. Nontheless this situation catapulted me into my first "dark night of the soul" and a deep spiritual journey that has tested and refined me so many times since. There are many, many layers to my story that have exposed me to the mysteries of the mind, the body and the spirit. Some supernatural, such as a mysterious encounter with and intelligent blue orb (strange, but true), and others that were uncovered by diving deep into the studies of psychology and spirituality in an attempt to understand the underlying trauma that caused my wife to withdraw so deeply.

It took many years to repair our marriage and we worked very hard under difficult circumstances to provide a foundation of love for our children as they were growing up. Being good parents was one place where we were almost always united and we have continued to lookout for their well being during our painful and contentious divorce after our daughter left for college.

 
Surrendering to the reality that our marriage was over was the ultimate gift of love for the entire family because we are now all able to grow, to love each other, to love ourselves, to respect one another and to be good friends once again. It is not the relationship that we initially thought it was going to be, and that’s OK. We have to practice full acceptance and move on so that we can experience our full potential by advancing beyond past wounds and embracing the potential of a bright and beautiful future.
 

I won't try to kid you, I went through hell. However, I can now look back and be thankful for the deeper growth that it forced me to experience in order to become who I am today. Hard times can crush us, or they can make us stronger. They can also be gifts in disguise that lead us to new and wonderful opportunities. When we are stripped of everything that we thought we were, we suddenly have an opportunity to actually discover who we really are at the core of our souls.

 My wonderful kids

My wonderful kids

For years I have been sharing my personal stories of heartache, joy and adventures on Instagram and many of my followers have continually encouraged me to write a book. As a result I was inspired to launch this blog where I can finally go further into depth with my writings and share more of my photography, too. Thank you for coming along on this journey with me and my dear friend, Libby McAvoy (please read her bio on this website). Libby is a true survivor and an amazing person! Her personal story will also inspire you to rise above any difficulties that you are facing. 

This blog is not only about me and Libby. It is about all of us learning together how we all can become the best versions of ourselves through awareness, acceptance and forgiveness. Both of us have moved mountains using these tools to reclaim our lives and have been given the mission to help you all do the same. I sincerely invite you to join us on this Total Soulful Journey. Life is far too short to feel stuck in misery, loneliness, fear or hopelessness. We all have a divine purpose in life and by being true to the calling of our souls, we can find true happiness, abundance and most importantly, love.

Wishing you all the best in life!

With love,

Paul