Create a daily routine- In order to overcome the monotony of quarantine and the woes of COVID fatigue, it is helpful to create some sort of daily routine, as structure allows people to feel focused, more energized, and lends the way to a daily sense of purpose. Try not to neglect the things you would do if this were life pre-COVID. Take a shower each day, drink plenty of water, write down a small list of goals for the week, maintain healthy eating habits, aim for 7–8 hours of sleep every night, and do not neglect your fitness routine. During these times of social distancing, it is important to mask up and take walks outdoors for fresh air and vitamin D-3 whenever you can.
As a part of my series about the women in wellness, I had the pleasure of interviewing Chimère G. Holmes, LPC, founder of Be Ye Renewed Counseling.
Chimère G. Holmes, LPC, an ordained minister and licensed professional counselor founded Be Ye Renewed Counseling, a private counseling practice in center city Philadelphia. Chimère is also the co-founder of the forthcoming podcast, “Trust Us; We’re Almost Doctors!” Created with her classmate and friend who she met in her current doctoral program, the podcast will offer a fun and fresh perspective on mental health — particularly as it relates to Black women, men, and families. Chimère was also a 2018 recipient of Main Line Today’s women on the move cover feature and was named a 2018 Power Woman based on her clinical work and dedication to men and women struggling with mental health disparities as well as opiate addiction. She obtained her first Master’s degree in Theology and Pastoral Ministry from Villanova University (Villanova, Pa) and a secondary Master’s degree in School & Mental Health Counseling from the University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, Pa).
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Our readers would love to “get to know you” better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?
I have a background in journalism and majored in communications in college at Immaculata University. I have always been an avid reader and writer. I spent several years as an editor at a medical publishing company. Later, I pursued my first master’s degree in theology and pastoral ministry at Villanova University. This 3-year program was transformative, as it afforded me the opportunity to become a campus minister who educated prisoners facing life sentences who were obtaining their college degrees in jail. I learned a great deal about social justice and I will forever be changed from the international missions work I did in Kingston, Jamaica, El Salvador, and Guatemala. This program resulted in me becoming an ordained reverend and I practice ministry by serving as a keynote speaker, preaching at churches, and officiating weddings throughout Philadelphia. After Villanova, I pursued a secondary masters in counseling at the University of Pennsylvania and garnered diverse clinical experience throughout Philadelphia, before becoming a licensed therapist. To date, I oversee my private counseling practice, Be Ye Renewed Counseling. At Be Ye Renewed, I treat individuals, couples, and families struggling with depression, low self-esteem, family challenges, anxiety, and spirituality issues. My prior work as a minister informs my practice as a therapist, and I love the fact I can offer a unique and holistic scope of practice to people struggling with emotional pain and distress.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career? What were the main lessons or takeaways from that story?
Upon graduating, I spent the early years of my counseling career working in a very impoverished part of Philadelphia at a methadone clinic. This was one of the most humbling experiences I have ever had in my life. I was extremely fortunate to meet and serve some of the most resilient, intelligent, and special men and women who happened to be battling both mental health and substance use disorders. Working at the community agency in the throes of the nationwide opioid epidemic was rewarding and heartbreaking all at the same time. Most of the patients I worked with came from treacherous beginnings and had less than ideal upbringings riddled with various forms of trauma, abuse, and neglect. I learned firsthand about poverty, the crisis in the urban education system, and what it means to be a resilient human being. This role helped me to not only cultivate a tremendous sense of gratitude for the life my parents provided me, but it also humbled me and proved that at the end of the day, everyone deserves kindness, help, and to be loved. The addiction crisis is real and when you are poor and have a substance use disorder, it is harder to get quality care and long-term help. We need more efficient and quality rehabilitation facilities in this country.
Can you share a story about the biggest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Looking back, I think I treated much of my career endeavors like a sprint instead of a marathon. I tend to be a bit of perfectionist with my work, and this can be both helpful and harmful. I now have greater trust for the timing of life, how my career will unfold and ultimately learned that if certain opportunities are meant for me, they will always find me and vice versa. The 2020 pandemic stretched me to think outside the box and tap into my creativity. The quarantine also forced me to slow down and take a step back from all the busyness — which in looking back may not have been serving me in the first place. Biggest lessons learned have been to trust the process of life and savor everyday; the pandemic is a constant reminder just how precious life is.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
There are numerous people who have helped, trained, mentored, and blessed me to get to this point in my career. The one constant and my number one fan that has been “team Chimère” from the beginning is my mother, Kimberly. She epitomizes the definition of a stage mom — but in a fun loving and supportive way! My mother’s love, wisdom, support and faith in me have been invaluable. From the early years of taking me to dance class or attending my high school plays, she was always there for me. My mother saw to it that I received my education. She would drive me to television auditions, practice with me before big job interviews, and I will forever be grateful for my mother’s deep faith in God and the fact she always encouraged me to shoot for the stars and that I can do anything I put my mind to. I love to bask in every level of success with her now because she is a major part of it. I want to give back to her just as she gave so much to me — love you Mommie!
Ok perfect. Now let’s jump to our main focus. When it comes to health and wellness, how is the work you are doing helping to make a bigger impact in the world?
My work as a therapist is providing much needed counseling services to a generally underserved population — the African-American community. People of color must overcome several obstacles to get adequate therapy. My philosophy is that everyone deserves and can benefit from participating in therapy. Factors such as historical trauma, distrust and uncertainty toward the medical community due to maltreatment and systemic racism tend to keep African-Americans away from the counseling office. Generational trauma and the societal stigma surrounding all things psychology and psychotherapy also contribute to people not seeking professional help in a timely fashion. My work enables individuals and families to alleviate their emotional suffering and gain a fresh perspective — it gives them hope. People seek counseling when they do not feel well, need help making a difficult decision, or feel stuck, perhaps unfulfilled in their life and relationships. I strongly believe that human beings are tripartite — composed of a mind, body, and soul. I also think we are spiritual beings having a human experience here on earth. Assisting someone understand and manage their anxiety, trauma, and depression initially impacts their emotional wellness, and it can eventually improve their physical and spiritual health as well. I love journeying with people and watching them accomplish their goals. The more healthy men and women there are, the healthier families, children, communities, churches, and organizations become. Awareness is always the first step to psychological change, so essentially good therapy has the potential to strengthen and improve systems and communities — one mind at a time.
Can you share your top five “lifestyle tweaks” that you believe will help support people’s journey towards better wellbeing? Please give an example or story for each.
- Introspection- Find some quiet time throughout the day to think about the major takeaways of each day. Reflecting on key lessons learned in 2020 can set the tone for how we will all navigate 2021 and put things into proper perspective — e.g., the importance of health, family, friends, faith, social networks, and fulfilling your life’s purpose.
- Maintain an attitude of gratitude- Research suggests that there are various mental health benefits of being thankful and grateful. Taking time to name, list, or write down daily wins, gifts, and blessings of the day improves the mood and rewires the psyche. There will always be things to complain about, why not combat the negative and concentrate on the things that are going right in your life instead.
- Practice Mindfulness- Mindfulness is all about paying more attention to what is going on in the present instead of fixating on uncertainty or things beyond our control. Incorporating mindfulness exercises into your daily routine can greatly impact your mental and emotional health.
Mindfulness-based practices such as deep belly breathing and tapping into the 5 senses keeps us from going into “autopilot,” which can put us in a position where we are more likely to react out of stress or respond to stress with unhealthy coping mechanisms.
- Focus on what you can control- We are all affected by the actions of others, but it is important to remember that we can only control our own words, thoughts, feelings and responses. Make it a point to focus on what you need to do in order to prioritize your own health and wellness.
- Create a daily routine- In order to overcome the monotony of quarantine and the woes of COVID fatigue, it is helpful to create some sort of daily routine, as structure allows people to feel focused, more energized, and lends the way to a daily sense of purpose. Try not to neglect the things you would do if this were life pre-COVID. Take a shower each day, drink plenty of water, write down a small list of goals for the week, maintain healthy eating habits, aim for 7–8 hours of sleep every night, and do not neglect your fitness routine. During these times of social distancing, it is important to mask up and take walks outdoors for fresh air and vitamin D-3 whenever you can.
If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?
If I could start a movement that would contribute to overall wellness to the masses it would involve accessible psychotherapy services for as many people as possible, particularly the marginalized. I am equally passionate about contributing to the healing of our nation’s racial divide and wounds that continue to linger and infect the way we treat each other. I can foresee myself presenting work on the psychology of racism and steps to achieving more racial justice and harmony — starting in the counseling room.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
- There is no such thing as perfection. If you make a mistake or fail, count it as a lesson that you would not have learned otherwise.
- Always consider the “Why behind what you do.” Intentionality and having a clear understanding of the work you want to create and the people you wish to serve will help you forge forward when you grow weary and want to throw in the towel.
- When building a business it is important to take risks from time to time. It does not always pay to play it safe and stay in your comfort zone.
- Change is good! It’s okay to shift, reinvent, and fine-tune your vision. Human beings change and evolve all the time, so the same must be true for business endeavors.
- Rest, rest, and rest some more. Our society has it backwards with the whole multitasking grind culture. Less really is more when you are trying to cultivate quality of life. None of us can pour from an empty cup and in order to be the best at your craft, you will need to unplug, get quiet, and recharge.
Sustainability, veganism, mental health and environmental changes are big topics at the moment. Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?
I am most enthralled with all things mental health at this time. Being a mental health practitioner in the midst of a pandemic has been an incredible new aspect of my work. More and more individuals are reporting issues of isolation, anxiety, stress, and depression. Perhaps one of the many gifts of the pandemic is that a lot of people have had to address their mental health challenges and give their emotional wellness time, attention, and the help it deserves. When it comes to mental health, I think we are only seeing the beginning of the ramifications of collective trauma from COVID-19. There will need to be emotional supports in place for the first responders and frontline professionals who are in the thick of fighting this virus. Telehealth has been a revolutionary new way to conduct therapy. I am hopeful that the stigma that has always surrounded mental illness and mental health will start to fade away. Hopefully, mental health will be all the more normalized and embraced like any other health or medical discipline for the long haul.
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?
For more information please visit my website: www.chimereholmes.com and please follow me on Instagram: @beyerenewed_counseling
Thank you for these fantastic insights!