CLINICAL SOCIAL WORKER, DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS; INSTRUCTOR, EMPOWER FITNESS & YOGA
Hometown: Patchogue, NY Age: 33
Education: MS Social Work, University of New England
Community Involvement: Sexual Assault Services (Rape Crisis Counselor), Plattsburgh Rotary
I was taught at an early age to put service before self,” said Meghan Lannon. “I would not be where I am today without help, so it’s critical to give back.” Meghan credits her decision to move away for graduate school to breaking the culture of poverty she was raised in and to finding a professional calling. By leaving a parent who was unwell both physically and emotionally, she gave herself the foundation she needed to care for her younger siblings after their parents passed away.
In her work with Sexual Assault Services, Meghan is able to promote advocacy to survivors and their families. She also has the chance to educate first responders on how to treat victims of sexual assault. As a yoga instructor she and her colleagues serve diverse groups and individuals. In addition, she believes that being active in the community helps set an example for veterans to navigate their surroundings.
With her unique skill set and compassion, it is not surprising that her dream job is as a yoga therapist and life coach.
What important lesson have you learned in your career?
That you don’t always have to find a solution to the problem; it’s enough to simply sit with someone and let them know that they are valued. Also, the power of human connection. If people don’t connect to you, the work you try to do will never be valid to them.
What are you doing to make a difference in your profession?
I provide all my clients with a holistic approach to health, such as access to movement therapy, mindfulness and advocacy in our community. I present clients with creative solutions to problems and symptom management and I apply the same concepts in the studio. I am fortunate to live in a rural community that is enriched with diverse professionals to connect people, from mental health to yoga teachers, farmers, acupuncturists, chiropractors, massage therapists, physical therapists, life coaches, artists…the list goes on. We have so many ways to help people reach their goals — making my job all the more achievable.
What is your biggest professional success?
Becoming a yoga instructor has changed every area of my world. It has taught me to be present over finding solutions. I like to help but if, as a social worker, we don’t empower individuals to create their own change, they can never feel that they are capable. Yoga has made me a better social worker as well as a better person. It also forced me to process and confront areas of my life and personality in a forgiving and understanding way that I can’t fully explain but feel with all my being.
How do you maintain a work/life balance?
It is a challenge. I begin by maintaining boundaries, such as turning off my phone when I’m not working. I also use physical activity — yoga, weight lifting, fitness classes, hiking, and walking my dogs. I pair the physical activity with acupuncture and massage. Because I care so much and want to change the world, it takes a lot of work to keep the balance but if I can’t breathe, then how can I tell other people to breathe?