Uncommon Interview with Meredith Haggerty

Haggerty recently talked with the Maroon about relaxation, losing her job, and investing in yoga.

By Al Gaspari

[img id=”77371″ align=”alignleft”] Until last quarter, Meredith Haggerty (M.F.A. ’07) worked at the Student Care Center (SCC) as a movement specialist, certified in massage therapy and body work. Though like many other University health-care workers, she recently found herself out of a job, Haggerty has remained committed to fostering wellness on campus. She has opened up a private practice in Hyde Park but still maintains ties to the University. She recently talked with the Maroon about relaxation, losing her job, and investing in yoga.

Chicago Maroon: Can you explain what you do?

Meredith Haggerty: I do some massage. I do work that combines somatic therapy, which is gentle manipulation of the body to find range of motion to find where the body wants to move, where it doesn’t want to move, with massage. And that’s also combined with my knowledge of yoga, movement, and dance. I try to combine those things with activities that the student likes, so it’s also about pleasure and enjoying one’s practice to take care of the body, and finding a practice that works.

CM: How do you come up with a treatment?

MH: That’s a good question considering every treatment is always different. I certainly take into account the students’ daily rituals, what they enjoy doing, their level of physical activity and their desire to do physical activities, or exercise. I take into account also what kinds of treatments I use they enjoy—some people enjoy being massaged, some people hate it. I use what people can appreciate the most and get the most out of.

CM: When did you find out that you lost your job at the hospital?

MH: I think it was a process that must have started in late November, and I worked there through the end of the quarter. And then it ended.

CM: How did it feel to leave?

MH: It wasn’t bitter because first I realized that I was able to have a private practice and continue to offer something to students, not the same thing, but something. And that’s important to me. The practitioners at the SCC are so great. Everyone that I worked with was great, and it’s not like they wanted to let me go. And they were very helpful in making sure I was able to settle into something else smoothly.

CM: How are you still involved with the University?

MH: I am on the wellness committee. That’s something that Ginger Carr is in charge of. She is now wellness director at the University…. I help Ginger with her stress management workshops.

CM: How is private practice different than your previous job?

MH: It’s really different in that I create my own schedule, do my own bookkeeping, answer my own phone. Certainly I work with fewer people on a weekly basis than when I was at the hospital.

CM: Is private practice something you enjoy more?

MH: It’s just different. I really liked being at the hospital. I really like being in private practice. It feels like I did a project and the project happened and it went really well and now I am doing a new project. It’s just really different.

CM: How did you get into your occupation?

MH: (Laughing) I guess it is a weird occupation, isn’t it? I got a B.F.A. in painting at Wayne State University in Detroit. I was working on these paintings about walking through architecture, and I realized that the walking to me felt more important than the act of painting. I decided to pursue my interest in the body and went to massage school, and I had a practice in Ann Arbor for a few years, and then actually came here to the U of C for my Master of Fine Arts because I wanted to integrate what I had learned during my time practicing massage into the art and the theoretical. I wanted to think about them as similar, to think about them as one practice.

CM: How would you describe your artwork?

MH: Somatic.

CM: Could you elaborate?

MH: (Laughing) No. It’s changing all the time.

CM: Your job is helping people relax. How do you relax?

MH: A great number of things. Right now time allows me to be really invested in my yoga practice. So it’s really nice— something I haven’t always had. I do a mindfulness meditation practice for instructions. I get massages. I relax with friends. Take warm baths.