Sheri O'neal Photographer


Jun 4 2013

Travis Meadows…survivor.

By Sheri Oneal

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 though 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 heart felt 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…

 Travis Meadows


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, some times 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.

Travis Meadows

Travis Meadows

Travis Meadows

Travis Meadows

Travis Meadows

Travis Meadows

Travis Meadows

Travis Meadows

Travis Meadows

If you want to know more about Travis go here.

If you want to check out Travis’s music go here.

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. Lets 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 must be agreed upon in writing.

*If you would like to leave a review of my work please do so here!


40 Responses to “Travis Meadows…survivor.”

  • Fester Hagood Says:

    I was lucky enough about 5 years ago to have stolen a cd from Levi Lowrey, a mutual friend and co-writer of Travis, that was full of early recordings and demos that Travis had been working on. I has hooked imediately and then I heard Killin Uncle Buzzy and cherished and related to every line written. I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know Travis as well as sharing the stage with him. Even before finding out his past, I was in awe of the honesty I felt in his lyrics, now these songs expose an another level of truth, and the scars are deeper than they at first seem. I look forward to revisiting his albums and look forword to many more. Thank you for sharing, Travis and Sheri!
    Fester Hagood

  • Josh Tenery Says:

    Very well put Sheri. I am honored to have Travis play at my home next weekend. I shared your posting in Facebook and I hope it opens a lot of eyes and makes people have that oh yeah moment in there life. Thanks for sharing. God bless ya. JT

  • Kelleye Troup Says:

    Wonderful write up on a amazing writer and Man!!

  • Nioka Pumphrey Says:

    I first met Travis last summer when he and Levi Lowrey performed a show at my house. At first I didn’t know what to make of the quirky, chain smoking, diminutive man who was standing in my backyard watching Levi smoke a brisket. Little did I know that he was about to rock my world. Since that night, my husband and I have been privileged to see Travis perform on several occasions. Over the past year, we have applauded his triumphs and commiserated with his losses. Throughout it all, we have been blessed to call him a friend.

    Thank you so much for helping Travis share his story! There is no greater thing in this life than to help lighten the burden of a fellow traveler, and you have done so with impeccable beauty and grace.

    Thanks again,
    Nioka P.

  • Laura Duffy Says:

    Not sure what I find more beautiful, the photos or the words that surround them.
    Thank you both!

  • Janice Says:

    This is a beautifully written and photographed story!
    You really captured so much of Travis’ personality in the photos…humor/strength/kindness.

  • Cindy Says:

    Love this. Glad Travis has “let it go” in his own way on his own time scale. Love him like a brother, so to see this freedom is heartwarming. Thanks so much for being a great, trusted part of this process for him through your friendship and your art.


  • Debbie Says:

    Incredible shots and two extraordinary people! Both of you, in different, but equally profound ways, have left the world a better place. I’m so honored to know you both and proud to be able to call you my friends! Love every part of this!

  • John Jackson Says:

    I became acquainted with Travis M’s music when a good friend of mine gave me a copy of his ‘Killing Uncle Buzzy’ CD. Have been around those in recovery for over 20 years, but never had I found a single piece of work that spoke so powerfully of early sobriety. Subsequently have had the pleasure of meeting TM and found him to be a pleasant, humble, and serene as I had hoped he would have found himself. That he has accepted and moved on from other experiences/losses is not surprising to me. Adversity seems to have met its match in Travis. My hope for him is that he stays the course, and I believe he will.

  • Kimble Bosworth Says:

    Your pictures – and Travis – have no missing parts. It seems he is more whole than most of us. Thanks you for posting.

  • Mary Lou Says:

    When I married my husband of 10 years he only had one leg. That’s how he was when I met and fell in love with him. He wasn’t broken, he was and is a beautiful person. Adapt and Overcome is his motto. I applaud Travis. I hope he, too, has come to believe he is a beautiful person.

  • Melissa Corbin Says:

    Cuddling with his dog is priceless! You are right, we all have insecurities. How freeing it is when you finally realize others don’t value you because of your appearance. If they do, get rid of them! Cheers to Travis!

  • Doak Turner Says:

    WOW Thank YOU and TRAVIS – SO INSPIRING! I know Travis a little – always a nice guy. I heard him speak at a NARAS event last winter about his addictions and his life.
    TRAVIS is a GREAT songwriter and great person. THANK YOU for the blgg! WOW!! Doak

  • Cathy Says:

    WOW! What an amazing story.

  • Julia Says:

    What a moving story & fabulous pictures! An earlier commenter noted that Travis seems “more whole” than many… I would have to say I agree. I’m off to listen to his music now. Thank you!

  • HeathCliff Rothman Says:

    Gorgeous work – profound energy. So glad I found you, at the suggestion of one of the community of Everyone Matters. We posted an image, credited you, of course, and send people here to read your post. Wow! – HeathCliff Rothman, president, Everyone Matters

  • Helen Gaye Brewster Says:

    You and Travis have both inspired me. The words and photos are beautiful. Like Travis, I’m freeing myself of the weight of a secret about myself I’ve kept for many years and have begun to talk about my recovery from depression and anxiety. It’s freeing my soul!

    • Sheri Oneal Photography Says:

      Thank you Helen for your comment. I too suffered from depression and anxiety most of my life. I took some big steps a few years ago and have never looked back. Life is a healing process, we have to learn to take care of ourselves first and then great things will come from our ability to carry on from a healthy place. So many people suffer from depression but we have to face what is causing us to feel that way on the inside first. Other people and things might be the catalyst but how we allow those catalyst to affect us on the inside is the true issue. I wish you the best with your recovery, there are always people out there who understand, who love you and who care…

  • darcy Says:

    I have the privilege of knowing Sheri and Travis. Both are greatly gifted! Sheri, this story was written with such heartfelt acknowledgement towards what Travis has gone through in life and what he reveals in his songs. I’ve been a Travis Meadows fan since day one and I would drive across the country to hear him play and perform. The conviction that flows from his guitar and mouth truly amaze me and take me right where the song leads. I am honored to call him “friend”. Thank you Sheri! Great captures!
    Larry – you have found your forever home and are truly handsome and loved!

  • Etta Britt Says:

    That was incredible..beautiful writing about a beautiful man..

  • Laura Lynn Reising Says:

    This is a beautifully written piece. Thank you so much for the gift of sharing it with us all. I am a new fan of Travis and have seen him three times this past month. You both will inspire so many through your words,music and photos!

  • Misty Scott Says:

    Your picture and Travis’ quote had circulated to me through some people in recovery that thought it came from a book. I just found this blog today. I am moved with the images and your words describing your friend. God bless you for passing this message on to others. And God bless Travis for his courage to stand stronger on one leg than most can on two. Much respect!

  • Taylor Craven Says:

    I met Travis at the Mississippi Songwriters Festival last September. I serve on the Board, and I’m a songwriter. I also had the privilege of seeing him in a late night set at the Flora Bama during Frank Brown Songwriter Fest in Nov. I’ve been inspired by the greats (Hank Cochran, Kris K, John Prine, Guy Clark). Well, I can honestly say Travis is among those greats. I am looking forward to seeing him tonight in an intimate, private venue here in Mississippi. His name will be mentioned for years to come when we writers talk about ‘the greats’, and who inspired us. I don’t know him well, but so hope to get to know him better in the future. His personal story and struggles are an inspiration to us all. We are blessed by his gift of being able to relay these struggles into poetic perfection, put to melodies, that will become timeless pieces of musical art, sung and re-sung for many years to come. Thank you for this blog, Sheri. God Bless.

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