This is a very personal blog for me to post on my business site, it is about courage, self esteem and being a survivor. There is more text than usual for a photo blog but I hope that you will read this story about my great friend Travis Meadows and pass it on. My hope is that those of us who struggle with self esteem will be touched and inspired as I have been.
I believe we as human beings get so self absorbed in our daily activity that we often lose touch and forget to be grateful for what we have in our lives. Family, friends, good fortune and health are all things that hit the top of my list. As I get older I have become more aware of life’s gifts and found myself being more observant and grateful than ever before.
As a woman (like most women) I can say I have always had a tough time liking my body…self conscious of my weight, my hair, my lisp, my backside and my legs. Self-esteem is one of the most personal issues we all deal with and everyone deals in a different way. The bombing at the Boston marathon really made me revisit my insecurities. Not only did some lose their lives but many lost limbs and knowing that many of these people were runners I can’t imagine the overall feeling of loss these people must be going through. I have also been reminded of this through the men and women in our armed services who offer their lives in exchange for our freedom and come home under similar circumstances. The truth is people all over the world have dealt with the loss of limbs, it is nothing new, yet those of us who have never dealt with such a loss rarely think of what that might be like should that fate become our reality. Society often treats amputees differently, confidence and renewed hope by these individuals is crucial in order for rehabilitation and acceptance to occur. Self esteem is vital for people to feel accepted no matter who you are, it is human nature to want to be liked and that starts on the inside not outside of us. In my eyes we are all beautiful, we all have something to offer ESPECIALLY through our differences. Love rather than judgement will allow us all the ability to live better lives.
Years ago I met a wonderful and amazingly talented singer, songwriter named Travis Meadows. We met when I was hosting a local writers round, I was moved by the heartfelt words in his songs, he became and still is my favorite songwriter. Travis has led a very tough yet colorful life. I have often told him he should write a book because I don’t know of anyone else personally who has experienced the extent of struggle that he has…
In his own words:
“I pull for the underdogs because I see myself in them
I’m not the fastest, the best looking or the bravest, I’m a survivor.
I survived car wrecks and cancer, addiction and religion. I quit smoking, twice.
I’ve been to rehab and jail.
I’ve been interrogated by the KGB and threatened to be stoned to death by radical hindi’s in India for giving bibles to kids.
I’ve been shot at, cut at, loved on and hated, married and very alone.
I fall down and I get up…often slowly.
I am awesome and insecure.
My pride is too big and my courage is too small.
I have scars and missing parts that I hide, sometimes by standing in front of them and sometimes behind because I don’t want to be identified with them or known for them.
I am bigger than the sum of the few parts I have left.
I am more than the road I’ve taken to get here.
I am deeper than the stories I tell or the songs I write and I’m shallow enough to lie in both.
I am constantly reaching, becoming, changing and staying the same.
Life is tragic and beautiful and I intend to live it completely and thoroughly as long as I have air in these lungs and a leg to stand on.”
-Travis F. Meadows
Travis has survived many struggles in his life but what many people do not know about Travis is that at a very young age he survived cancer. Though that was a miracle in itself he has secretly struggled with his own personal insecurity from that experience. Most have never seen Travis wear shorts, he avoids the beach, the lake and I imagine summer is a difficult time for him personally. Travis like so many people is an amputee, his days start differently than mine and probably yours, he has to put on a prosthetic leg. I know Travis well, I consider him family and we talk openly about most things but this is the one thing he never speaks about. For some reason at the age of 48 Travis has come to the realization that his hiding the fact that he is an amputee carries a tremendous personal weight. I learned of his situation many years ago with a subtle comment while doing my first photo shoot with Travis, as a photographer I am extremely sensitive to people’s insecurities because I realize how those things can affect the picture I have the ability to capture. Nothing more was ever said, I understood.
Travis and I recently spoke about where he is in his life and he said he was ready to free himself from the weight of hiding this secret. He has been privately hinting through his music over the years but unless you know Travis or read deeply into his heartfelt words you would never connect his random mention of “missing parts” he frequently refers to in his songs. His newest CD is no exception. I feel so honored to be the one he chose to help. Travis has never allowed most people to see him nor has he revealed to most that he is an amputee…until now. Yesterday he took the first step of posting his words above with one chosen picture on his FB page, he has had over 318 likes and 91 comments. That alone shows how loved he is, I can not imagine the personal toll a secret like that must take on someone over more than 30 years. My hope is by sharing these intimate pictures of my wonderful friend, it will allow him the freedom to be all that he is, to let his secret go and to move on knowing his weight has lifted. I know that this story will inspire others who are dealing with similar circumstances. I also believe it will inspire those who have their own insecurities like myself. Travis has always inspired me through his stories and his words. He inspires others through his music and now perhaps he will inspire those struggling with self love.
The images below may be the most meaningful I have ever taken because they are so personal to me. Because I know Travis, I wanted to offer some insight to his deeper side. I wanted to capture the private side of Travis Meadows in all his beautiful glory. He is a wonderful human being and I feel honored to call him my friend. He recently adopted a 3 legged dog named “Larry” whom I felt compelled to also include in the photos.
In closing I hope that you will rethink all those things you say you hate about your body, be grateful for what you do have NOT what you don’t, life is too short. Self esteem and self love are so important to not only be happy with ourselves but for those around us to also be happy with us. Reach out to others too, be kind, give someone a random comment today about how good they look, that comment will bring a smile and with that boost someone else’s self esteem. Let’s make the world a better place by just being nice to someone else…even if it is a stranger! Sending love…pass it on.
Please share your thoughts and comments with me, I would love to hear from you.
*NOTE all Sheri Oneal blog post are ©2013 by Sheri Oneal. Any use of photos or content (other than sharing the link) must be agreed upon in writing.
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