How to Own Your Story to Access Healing and Self-discovery

Tell Your Story CBaS podcast cover image with Daralyse Lyons

Listen to this episode to explore how you can define your identity and find healing as you own your story. Daralyse invites us to consider how we will tell our story, what framing and structure will we use, and who will we tell it to.

Being authentic and true to yourself means telling your story, but you also get to choose who to tell your story to. We share our stories with the people whom we trust, and we get to tell our stories the way we want them.

Daralyse Lyons is a journalist, an actor, and an activist. She has written more than two dozen full-length books, a handful of short stories, and countless articles, performed in various plays and in improv comedy shows. She is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) and a summa cum laude graduate of NYU, with a double-major in English and Religious Studies and a minor in History. After writing an award-winning children’s book (I’m Mixed!) about embracing her multiethnic heritage, Daralyse found her passion and her purpose educating others about the need to embrace all aspects of themselves. She then went on to create the Demystifying Diversity Podcast and to write the book Demystifying Diversity: Embracing Our Shared Humanity. She works tirelessly as a full-time DEI expert and inclusivity strategist.

We recorded this episode on June 2, 2021.

I’m thinking, okay, I’m going to shame my way out of that. Well, that never worked for me, but what did work was saying, like, Okay, yeah, I don’t want to be destructive. So what, what can I do that’s going to love myself into a place of taking the actions that are in keeping with my values. And I think it works on those sort of larger scale addiction issues. But I think it also works in seemingly smaller ways.

Daralyse Lyons, Journalist | Actor | Activist

Your Challenge Invitation

Your story deserves to be told. You don’t have to be a storyteller in order to want to shift your story, to shift your life.

If you want to tell a story, whether it be a story about yourself or a story about someone else ,fictional or someone in your life, ask yourself what story am I yearning to tell? You might be surprised by what comes up. Then, maybe ask yourself the question who do I want to tell it to? If you are telling the story to yourself, then consider journalling. If you want to share a secret and work through some healing, a therapist might be a good person to share your story with. You may want to share something with a spouse or speak on stage. Ask yourself: 1) what do I want to express; 2)who do I want to hear this, or who needs to hear this. Aspects of your story deserve to be told to safe people who will affirm you.

Once you know the story you want to share, write the story. Then look for opportunities to share it. This could be private opportunities with yourself in a journal or looking into storytelling groups, writing classes or writing mentorships. One-on-one coaching might be a good option for you.

Just make a start, right where you are, and then continue to practice again and again and again. Stepping outside our comfort zones is really important as part of growth as storyteller, and also part of just growth as we’re developing as humans. So tell your story as often as possible to yourself and to safe people.

Storytelling, writing, doesn’t need to be a daily practice, but you will build your storytelling ability if you practice several times a week. Continue to listen for those intuitive nudges to do more or to stretch further. Start where you are and trust that you will evolve in time.

Contact and follow Daralyse by going to or by going to

You can connect with Damianne on the Changes BIG and small website, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube. You’re also invited to join the Changes BIG and small Facebook community.

[Your] light was always waiting to be shown.

Related Episodes

Timeline of the Chat

01:59 – Being an Author
12:12 – Processing Identity through Storytelling
18:24 – Defining self-acceptance
23:16 – Transformation through Self-Acceptance
27:18 – Love as an Antidote to Fear
28:51 – Maintaining Self-Acceptance
34:02 – Invitation/Challenge: Telling our stories
42:27 – Fast Final Five

I think that love is really the thing that everyone needs in order to come to wholeness.

Quick Links

We’re only as sick as our secrets.

Transcript of the Episode

Being an Author [01:59]

Damianne President: [01:59] Yes, me too. So you’re a prolific author as I just read. When did you realize that you were an author?

Daralyse Lyons: [02:06] Yeah. You know, I love that question. So I, I think it was just always  part of my identity. I remember at five years old, which was, when I learned to read other kids would get in trouble, you know For staying up late and watching TV or sneaking downstairs to the kitchen or whatever it is, and I would, my mom would find me, you know, under the covers with a flashlight, just reading the Berenstein Bears and I would be falling asleep in my Cheerios in the morning. And, um, and I always, I was always a storyteller as a child. I had a vivid imagination. I remember, you know, thinking I could fly and being convinced and like telling people, you know, like, guess what, I can fly, so I was always, always in the creative space from the moment I think that I came into this world. More of my own personal struggle has been giving myself permission to be that person that I am and giving myself permission to be a storyteller and to embrace that you know, that’s the way that I’m wired, and I think that those are the talents and the gifts that I came into this world with.

The more I can align myself with that, the better my life gets and the more of service I’m able to be to others. So it’s really like, I was a storyteller, I’ve always been a storyteller, but there was definitely a period in my life where I didn’t embrace that part of me. And in retrospect, it’s like, well, why not?

Damianne President: [03:33] Well, that’s exactly what I was going to ask. What causes that break because you talk about you were, and then you are now, but at some point you struggled with it. So what caused that break in identity or in your passion or love for writing?

Daralyse Lyons: [03:48] I think a number of things. I experienced some trauma, uh, in, in my life, the loss of loved ones, some sexual abuse as a child, and then later on, you know, in my teens and, twenties, which I think they say that when a person has been abused, they’re more likely to be abused again. And it has to do with, you know, the valuation of self and a lot of those sorts of things. And so I think that my self worth, really evaporated with some of the experiences that happened. Looking back, you know, I had nothing to do with those experiences. It wasn’t about me, but as children, we think, you know, again, like it comes back to stories, right?

The story that I told myself was that it was my fault. And I think another deeper story that I told myself as someone who was sexually abused was that it wasn’t safe to be me. You know, it wasn’t safe to be in my body, it wasn’t safe to express myself, it wasn’t safe to be who I am. And nobody else told me that, but that was my story, that was my interpretation. I think that led to a lot of things.

That led to me trying to put a lid on my creative self-expression. It led to developing an eating disorder. Also I think it’s hard to be who you are when you’re starving yourself or throwing up or all the things I was doing. So it was really that. It was like these external things happened, I made up a story about them that had to do with my value in the world and who I was allowed to be, and then I shut down and I lived my life from that shut down place for a really long time. 

But the, the real blessing though, Damianne, is that anytime that I would come up for air, metaphorically speaking, I would find my love of stories again. Anytime I had a period of recovery or any time I was in therapy or would do some spiritual work or something, it was like, yeah, yeah, yeah, stories you know, journaling, writing, so the first thing to kind of resurface as part of my healing journey, but you know, all the relapses and it was as if I quickly put lids on that, but it was, it was always, it was always there. 

That light was always waiting to be shown as soon as I gave myself permission, and realized that I was the only one who’d been denying myself that permission that I felt really empowered to, to tell  first my story. And now the work that I do is tends to be more amplifying other people’s voices and supporting them and their storytelling and a mix of kind of like introspection and  extroversion.

But yeah, for me, telling my own story was such a healing part and my journey, and it really allowed me to reclaim my relationship with who I am, who I’ve always been.

Damianne President: [06:30] I think that’s so interesting and that’s a theme that comes up again and again. We’re not responsible for the things that happened to us, but we really internalize these messages about our worth in the world, from what other people do to us. And then that really removes us from ourselves.

As you’re talking, it’s making me think of all of the ways we can come home to ourselves and to our sense of wellbeing, whether it is being able to be in our bodies or being able to tell our stories or being able to recognize the truth of who we are.

Daralyse Lyons: [07:03] I think all of  those things are part of it, all of those things that you just mentioned, you know, being able to come home to ourselves, and I think for me, it’s had to be a combination of all those things, because I didn’t actually know. Years ago, if you asked me how I was feeling, I would have no idea. I could tell you how I was thinking, but 

Damianne President: [07:26] Yes. 

Daralyse Lyons: [07:27] And so for me, the journey has been becoming a more integrated person, that if I’m sad today, I can cry. And that might sound so simple, but it wasn’t always the case, like I would be crying and I didn’t know why. I didn’t even think I was sad, you know, or I would be devastated about something, but I couldn’t access that pain. It was like, there was a disconnect. And I think sometimes too,  there’s a disconnect between the stories that we tell and our actual experience. So I’ll give you an example. 

Okay, have you ever asked someone how are you doing and they say fine. And you can tell that they are not fine. They are not fine. They are not fine. It’s not even necessarily that there’s anything about you that that person is trying not to tell you their story, but, um, but it’s an internal barrier, like, oh no, no, I’m conditioned that if the world asks me how I’m doing, I say fine, because that’s the only acceptable answer. 

And so I think there’s like a, it seems to be a cognitive disconnect for many, many people, if not most people in society today where the stories that we tell ourselves, the stories that we tell others don’t really sync with our lived experience. And I think that leads to a lot of internal alienation. And I think it leads to a lot of the problems that we see in the world where, you know, people are feeling voiceless, they’re feeling unmet, unheard, uncherished. Then that kind of plays out in how they treat themselves. It plays out in how they allow others to treat them. It plays out in how they treat others. So I think a lot of the cycles of toxicity that we experienced really have to do with are we being listened to, and what are our interpretations, and those kinds of things.

Damianne President: [09:10] A word that I learned about in the past year is the word Sonder. And I believe it’s a German word, but it has to do with that everybody has this complex internal lives that we can’t even begin to fathom, or that we often don’t even think about. And as you’re talking, that idea is coming up for me again.

And then you’re also saying, well, it’s simple. The simplest things tend to be the things that really require you to connect and to be present. And those are not easy things for us, for many of us.

Daralyse Lyons: [09:47] Well, I think it’s lifelong, like it’s a lifelong practice. It’s like yoga or meditation or something like that, right. It’s not something you can just, I can just do once, like, oh, I’ve got to be authentic today and then I will forever be an authentic person if I just did it the one time. And I love that word that you said. 

We do. We have rich complex, internal lives. And one of the things that I’ve gleaned from the work that I do as a journalist and sitting down with people and hearing their stories, is that, yeah, actually there is no way to know from the outside, what a person’s internal experience has been, what a person’s life experiences have been. That also actually really applies to me and my own inner experience. And what I mean by that is that for a long, long time. I didn’t want to investigate my own inner world because I thought I was unlovable. You know, I didn’t want to get to know myself. There was a definite fear, like, oh my gosh, what will I discover, you know? What will I discover if I dig down deep? 

I think  that fear kept me shut off from so much of what is lovable and good about me and what is human. And I think that’s also a lot of the fears that drive the biases in society, a lot of the fears that keep us from really getting to know each other and being safe spaces for other people to land. It’s like this no, no, I don’t want to investigate. That just leads to so much pain. My experience is that it is simple and it is hard to unlearn the way that we’ve been conditioned.

But today it is more painful for me not to be authentic than it is to be authentic. and it didn’t use to always be that way. So I think it’s like a issue of the more that I practice and the more that people practice, the more it becomes a new normal and the more it’s like, oh, actually I kind of like being vulnerable, even though it might mean that I’m sad more often. It also means that I have more access to joy and that my intimate relationships are better and all these things. You kind of start to really feel those benefits. But there is that early period where it’s like, oh, this sucks. It’s just really not fun and counterintuitive, and there’s so much deconditioning to do, but then I think it does get easier in time. It really does.

Processing Identity through Storytelling [12:12]

Damianne President: [12:12] You mentioned about how when you write a story, it could be partly from your own experience and it could be from experiences of others or your understanding of the world. Do you use storytelling as part of building identity and of the whole process of self acceptance?

Daralyse Lyons: [12:27] I think storytelling is everything. I don’t think I can oversell the importance of storytelling and not just for me as a professional storyteller, but for every person. I really believe that the stories we tell ourselves and others shape the lives that we live.  Let’s say as a five-year-old, you skin your knee. You fall down, you skin your knee, you’re five years old. And it’s like, you know, this is the worst thing ever. I ruined my pants. I’m gonna die. I have a knee wound. Maybe you have to get whatever they put on it to clean out the wound. And it’s like, oh, my parents hurt me. It’s going to hurt forever, and this is so sad and now I can’t go outside and play. 

And then the next day, you’re good. You’re doing well. You’re outside in a pair of shorts and your friend says to you on the playground, oh, what happened to your leg? And you’re like, I fell, I was running. It was so, you know, I was so cool. And then, you know, my parents, like, they cleaned up my leg and I got to eat ice cream because you know, like I …  Same set of experiences; totally different story. Totally different framing.

You weren’t lying to yourself when you were in pain around it and you were kind of histrionic; you weren’t lying to yourself when it’s just like, oh, listen to that cool thing I did. Well, that’s one example, but we play it out all of the time. You just gave the example of the author who someone would remove a chapter of his book and it was like, this is horrible. It means I’m not a good writer. It means I don’t have talent. I should get a new editor, whatever that story is that that person is saying versus, wow, this made my book more succinct and like, look how much more it flows and how cool that I have an editor that I can trust to make my work better.

Same set of experiences, but the interpretive lens is different. And so I think, um, one of the ways that I know as a person that I’m making progress is that when I look back at my life, the way that I’m telling stories is different. I used to sit here or sit across the table from someone and I would tell them, you know, I can’t get over my bulemia. I can’t get over my anorexia unless so-and-so apologizes for abusing me as a child, unless like this thing happens, you know, I’m traumatized because of blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And today I can sit here and I can say to you, you know, like I am actually so grateful because I acquired so many skills and therapy that I wouldn’t have.

I wouldn’t have gone to therapy without these childhood experiences.  I probably never would have left a career in finance to pursue my creative passions if I hadn’t had to get into recovery from an eating disorder and realized that I needed to feed my soul and my spirit. Those events still happened, but what’s changed is my perspective.

My story in my mind is different. It wasn’t a result of me just making a decision to tell myself different stories. It was really a result of me kind of continually what you were talking about earlier with that embodiment And whatnot, right? Like it was a continual result of checking in with myself, checking in with my experiences, shining light in those wounded places, talking to others, not keeping secrets. I really believe we’re only as sick as our secrets, just being more vulnerable, being more authentic that I started to love myself the way that the world was telling me I was lovable, but I hated myself.

And so as I really began to be more upfront about what was happening in my head, it started to change and to shift. And I started to realize like, oh, I’m lying to myself all the time. I’m stuck in these really toxic story cycles, and so I found journaling to be really helpful. I found friendships to be really helpful. I found spirituality to be really helpful, therapy, like working intensely with people and in group dynamics, writing, doing what I love, yoga, just meditating. So there’s a lot of different ways I think, to access those inner shame story spirals and to begin to untangle them and to move towards something else. I would encourage people to do that.

I kind of lost the train, but your original question was around storytelling and identity formation, and I think that if someone is unhappy with who they believe themselves to be, there’s nothing wrong with who you are. Who you are is wonderful and beautiful, but there’s probably something wrong with the stories you’re telling yourself about who you are,

Damianne President: [16:54] Now I’m reflecting about how often is the story that we tell ourselves the same as the story we tell to other people. I don’t know the answer to that question but my sense is that they’re not always aligned, and that’s also one of those wounds we were talking about earlier.

Daralyse Lyons: [17:10] I think the more integrated I get as a person and the more safe relationships I create in my life, the more that gap gets closed. So I do think that it’s really helpful and really healing to begin to have relationships where it is really safe to tell other people what’s going on. But also, you know, for me personally, I’m not telling everyone my story, so someone asks me how I’m doing and I say fine even if I’m going through a bad day or experiencing some inner trauma or even just like really super joyful, because it’s not always negative.

 Sometimes it can feel unsafe to share, like, I am so excited, everything’s going well for me or whatever, especially when you think someone else is in pain. Like if I go to the grocery store and the person in line behind me says how was your day, I’m probably not going to share with them the most vulnerable parts of my life or whatever. So I think it’s not necessarily about having to be all of ourselves all the time with everyone, but having at least some relationships where it is possible to show up and tell the truth, like the real truth, the unfiltered truth, as much as possible. 

Defining self-acceptance [18:24]

Damianne President: [18:24] That actually sounds like a definition of self-acceptance to me. So, how would you define self acceptance for yourself or broadly.

Daralyse Lyons: [18:34] I guess I love  that you said it sounds like a definition because my experience of self-acceptance as an emotional experience is that it’s  a feeling, right, like a safe feeling like, oh, I’m at home here. I’m at home here; I don’t need to be anyone else; I don’t need to do anything else; I don’t need to perform any other way.

 Interestingly enough. I used to think once I fill in the blank, once I lose 10 pounds, once I meet the love of my life, once I, um, I don’t know, make a certain amount of money, then I’ll feel good inside, then I’ll be okay.

And today I think, no, like I want to accept myself exactly as I am. I want to accept myself in this body shape and this life circumstances and this singledom and this, you know, whatever, whatever it is. And I want to live my life from that place of self-acceptance. And sometimes my mind and the stories I tell myself haven’t quite caught up, but I live today for the most part in self-acceptance, and I tell the truth about myself to other people and I don’t hide, and I don’t conceal for the most part. And as I do that, there is so much more internal self acceptance. But I think for such a long time, I got it backwards thinking that the feelings would come if I just achieve X, Y, and Z.

And today it’s like, no, no, I’m going to live from the place of self-acceptance, of feeling that self-acceptance. And my outer life has gotten a lot better, but I hear a lot less. It’s really paradoxical that some days I’ll love myself and everything’s gone wrong, and it’s like, well, how is this possible that I feel pretty okay with who I am and nothing’s going my way. And I don’t really know how that works, but it happens.

Damianne President: [20:22] Yeah, that’s interesting. And also thinking that you can love somebody through many different iterations, many different iterations of change and so change and self acceptance are not mutually excited. You could continue to accept yourself as you’re changing and growing and progressing.

Daralyse Lyons: [20:42] I mean I think we’re always either evolving or devolving as people, like there is no such thing as stagnation. Even if you try to do, let’s say like a balancing pose in yoga, you’re doing tree pose or someting, if you’re really in tune with it, you’re feeling these little micro movements just to stay in balance. Your everything is moving constantly.

We’re atoms, we’re cells, like everything is constantly moving. And so how that relates to this idea of change and acceptance is like, well, I think a fundamental part of self-acceptance is realizing that you that you are today is not the you that you’re going to be five years from now, and we shouldn’t want that.

I mean, how sad, right? How sad if I am doomed to be the exact me for the rest of my life, that means I’m not open, and I think that the me I am at my core, my inner essence, is unchangeable my soul, whatever it is; that light is always there. But I meet people; I get changed by them. 

My perspectives change. I learn more information; I grow. Some days I kind of devolve and it’s like oh God, I’m here again, oh wow. Why am I refusing to do laundry or whatever it is. Why am I throwing a hissy fit over this thing. 

So yeah, I do think that self-acceptance is contingent on the sort of knowledge that I’m accepting the me that I am in this moment, and that’s not necessarily, and in fact probably not the me that I’ll be in a week or a month or a year. But it doesn’t mean that I have to change in the following prescripted ways in order to remain acceptable. I think that’s part of the flexibility and the adaptability.

 There’s things about me that may never change that are kind of hard to live with, like my being a Type A person and all these things like, oh, I guess that’s just part of me. And I guess I’m just gonna accept it and maybe at some time it’ll shift. But a lot of the things like I didn’t use to be a very good friend and I’m a way better friend now. And I don’t know why, but I accepted myself in my selfishness. I accepted myself in my, like, I don’t have time for people, I have to work, and all the ways that I used to think. And then it shifted and it opened up. So I think part of the self-acceptance is like, yeah we accept who we are and where we are in the acknowledgement that that will absolutely change but it won’t always change in the ways that I think it should.

Transformation through Self-Acceptance [23:16]

Damianne President: [23:16] Yes. And even that word should, right. Because when I find myself, when I catch myself with any of the shoulds, then it’s like, oh, here I am in judgments. And that is in direct opposition to self acceptance or acceptance of others as well.

Daralyse Lyons: [23:32] Right. And it doesn’t mean, I think that we can’t say certain things are unacceptable within our value system. I want to be clear that I think there’s certain things that I don’t want to do. And there are certain things that when other people do them, it pains me, because of the hurt that they’re inflicting on themselves or the hurt that they’re inflicting on others. And yet, when I really understand that those things come from a place of anguish and torment and an illusion of separation, I don’t let the person off the hook. I don’t necessarily let myself off the hook. It’s like, okay, what can I do in order to be a person that is more aligned with my values?

What actions can I take? It’s a weird paradox because, you know, I don’t want people listening to this to be like, oh, so you basically just said we can go around doing whatever we want all the time and be accepting of that. That’s not how I feel, but the thing is there are things that I can do that I don’t do today because they pull me out of a place of self acceptance; they pull me out of alignment with myself.

 I don’t binge and purge today not because there’s anything wrong with bingeing and purging, although yes, it is toxic. It is damaging to the body. It is like, you know, hurtful to food and the environment and all those things, but that’s not why I don’t do it. I don’t do it because I can’t do that and also love and accept myself at the same time. I’m just incapable of that. And so certain things kind of fall away when I’m operating from a place of knowing that I want to live in alignment with who I am and live in alignment with my values and really be a person who does esteemable things. Certain things I just don’t do anymore. 

 It’s slightly different, but I think there’s a saying you can’t fight hate with hate. This, whatever the things are about us that we feel are unlovable, whatever the things are, the behavioral cycles that we don’t want to be doing, I think it’s impossible to kind of shame ourselves into being lovable. 

But that doesn’t mean that we just say like, okay, well, it’s fine; I’m just going to be in a self destructive place for forever. There are actions that you can take that that higher mind, that wise self, can say like, okay, maybe I need to get some treatment for this. Maybe I need to, you know, get some therapy. Maybe it would be really helpful if I took a detour and drove in another direction on the way home from work so I’m not driving straight by the liquor store. There’s things that we can do to take corrective measures in our life from a place of self love and self care and self protection and protection and love and care of others that have the same desired result.

Like if I don’t want to be self destructive with food or bulemia, for me, I’m thinking, okay, I’m going to shame my way out of that. Well, that never worked for me, but what did work was saying, like, Okay, yeah, I don’t want to be destructive. So what, what can I do that’s going to love myself into a place of taking the actions that are in keeping with my values. And I think it works on those sort of larger scale addiction issues. But I think it also works in seemingly smaller ways.

 If someone wants to be a writer and they want to create a book, it’s like, okay, instead of yelling at myself mentally about how I’m have all these ideas and I don’t do anything, what would it be like to just wake up 15 minutes earlier and spend 15 minutes a day during the work week writing and accept myself there, and kind of honor the part of me that’s calling for this change, this modification, but in a way that is loving and really sets me up for success as opposed to, you know, shoulding all over myself. 

Love as an Antidote to Fear [27:18]

Damianne President: [27:18] One of my previous guests in season one said that the opposite of fear is not courage, but it’s love. That has kind of sat with me because I thought, oh wow, that makes sense to me because courage has this idea of really being pushed whereas love feels like more of a pull emotion to me. And so, yeah, I think that might be an interesting thing to think about.

Daralyse Lyons: [27:47] I’ve never heard that before. I’d heard that the opposite of fear was faith. I guess they’re both very similar, right? Like love and faith, and whether it’s faith in oneself or faith in the universe or guiding principles or a higher power or faith that other people are inherently good or whatever it is.

 I think that love is the thing that, I mean, it sounds very kumbaya, but I think that love is really the thing that everyone needs in order to come to wholeness. And I think that self-love, loving each other, loving this world that we’re part of, I just think love is transformation, and the more that I have embraced love in my life, the more lovable I think I’ve become, and I think the more good I’m able to do in the world, and the less seriously I take myself, and the more fun I have. So I think there are no negative consequences to love; it’s all positive consequences. 

Maintaining Self-Acceptance [28:51]

Damianne President: [28:51] What still trips you up, as we talk about self-acceptance?

Daralyse Lyons: [28:54] Oh my gosh. Great question. So, um, I, I tend to be wired and this has served me and also not, and so I think that might be why it’s so hard to give up. I’m conditioned to work really really hard all the time which you might have gleaned, right? You’re like, okay, yeah. Not only will I major in tubing, I’m also going to do a minor. Not only will I write a book this year, I’m going to write five. I think that some of that can be inspired, Damianne, from a place of like, oh, cool, I want to be of service to the world and I want to be prolific and I love what I do, and that is great when it comes from this place of joy and authenticity, but there’s another wound place where it comes from a place of I am not enough and I need to prove myself and I need to do more and no matter how much I do it will never be enough.

 It’s gotten a little better. It doesn’t always come from a place of I’m not enough and therefore, I must do more and more and more to prove myself. But there is some of that that can still come up in me.  I don’t really think there’s anything I can do for that, but notice it and when it does come up, talk about it and pray about it and meditate and just like force myself in a way to be like, okay, yeah,  I know it’s 9:30 at night and you’ve worked since seven in the morning and you’re still wanting to work more, but we’re done. Okay, Dara, like we’re done. 

So that’s a piece that for me, like I said, it’s paid off insofar as I get a lot done and I love what I do, and I think it allows me to add value to people, but I think some of what drives that sometimes can come from a place that it’s just not fun living there. And it makes me feel like I get to the end of a project sometime and instead of feeling like, wow, that was really great, I’m so glad that I did that or let me celebrate myself or whatever, or just enjoy some time of reflection, I think, okay, well what’s next. I can’t ever not be working on something; I can’t ever not be producing. And um, so yeah, that has been a double-edged sword that continues to trip me up.

Damianne President: [31:07] As we talk about you doing so many things, what is the thing that’s bringing the most life, I guess, to your life right now? What is the thing that’s feeding your soul, your spirit, your sense of being in the world the most right now. 

Daralyse Lyons: [31:25] Oh, that’s such a good question. So I think because of the timing of when you’re asking this question, right, like if you’d asked me this question pre-COVID a pandemic, or if you’d asked me the question even in the midst of that, my answer would have been something to do with work, like what I was doing creatively, what I was doing in terms of journalism. And I get so much joy from that. I really, really do. And I think given the fact that like the world, at least where I am in Philadelphia and Pennsylvania in the US, is starting to open up a little more, and recently I had the experience of going to Connecticut to see my family and my mom and my sister and spending time with them and we hadn’t all three been together since the beginning of the pandemic. And, you know, just getting together with some friends, like those are the things right now that are really nourishing to me. And I feel like, oh my gosh, yeah, I’ve missed hugs and missed cuddles. When I was with my family, I just, you know, hugged them and excessive amount of hugs. 

So that is really brining me joy and I’m craving it. And probably, you know, if we were to do this interview in two months, I’m sure I’ll be back in a place where it’s like, oh yeah, like I love my family, I love my friends, but also let me tell you about this work thing because that’s what’s really lighting me up.

But, right now, that’s what my soul and spirit has been hungry for is that in-person connection. And I haven’t had nearly enough of it. So right now, it’s just feeling so, so good to give myself that gift and that time.  

Damianne President: [33:01] I think a lot of people are kind of finding that same experience of right now, the answers to those types of questions being very different than at other times in our lives. And I think that’s very interesting for us to reflect on individually as well and see how that changes as the world continues to open up over time.

Telling our stories [33:24]

I think when you tell your story from a second person perspective or a third person perspective, you get a different framing of it than if you tell it from the first person perspective; there is a bit of distance perhaps that allows you to present it in a different way.

So for listeners who are interested in exploring storytelling either as part of building identity, as part of self acceptance, or just part of having a creative endeavor, do you have an invitation of something that they could do as an introduction or as a next step.

Invitation/Challenge [34:02]

Daralyse Lyons: [34:02] Oh, yeah. I love that. And thank you for saying that as well about the mode of storytelling. Am I just telling it in first person, am I telling it in third person, second person, because it makes such a difference. I feel like this is a perfect entry into talking about, you know, there’s different ways of telling stories.

We can, and I do many of them. So telling my story on stage is a very different experience or telling my story on a podcast is a very different experience than writing my story. And the other thing, I think, like the other misconception, and I don’t know how to frame it differently in our language, but you talked about the rich internal world that people have.

We all have a myriad of stories. I think I have a million stories within myself and that might be underestimating based on my own life experiences and my own imagination. And so I think the first invitation to people would be, if you want to tell a story, so not even thinking about all the stories, if you want to tell a story, whether it be a story about yourself or a story about someone else fictional or someone in your life, think about what story am I yearning to tell and answer that question for yourself. You might be surprised by what comes up. Then, maybe ask yourself the question who do I want to tell it to? And if the answer is, you know, I want to tell this story to myself because it’s something that I haven’t looked at. Well then maybe the best way to do that is through journaling. 

Or maybe I want to tell this story to a family member. This is something that happened in childhood that I kept secret, and I want to tell this story to a therapist.  I want to tell my spouse something that happened that I never talked to them, or I want to talk on stage to an audience. 

I think it’s really important to know what do I want to say, and when I say stay, it could be speak or it could be just writing. What do I want to express? And then who do I want to hear this, or even who needs to hear this. One of the things I’ll say, I know I’m giving a really long answer to your question, but one thing I will say is that what I found is that there are a lot of people, because of marginalization, because of oppression, because of different societal factors, lack of education, different access to resources, there are a lot of people in this world who have been silenced and they’re really like, uh, proven, um, detrimental effects of not being allowed to tell one story or not feeling safe in telling one story. There are mental health consequences; there are physical health consequences. 

And so I think just first of all, it’s really important to know, and to honor that whoever you are, whatever you’ve been through, your story deserves to be told. Aspects of your story deserve to be told to safe people who will affirm you. And so I think just like kind of knowing that and then asking yourself, okay, well, where do I want to start, and who do I want to hear me, and then looking into some opportunities, whether that be just, you know, private opportunities with yourself in a journal or looking into like storytelling groups or looking into writing classes or writing mentorships or coaching, or even one-on-one coaching, which I do with people too.

Even though you might not call that storytelling in any traditional sense, I noticed that as I’m working with people to really develop their own life plans and life strategies, they keep just upgrading their stories as a result of that. So someone doesn’t have to consider themselves a storyteller in order to want to shift their stories, to shift their life. 

Damianne President: [37:49] And would you suggest that people explore different perspectives in telling their story, or where would they want to start? 

Daralyse Lyons: [37:56] So it really depends on a person’s life experiences and whether a person has felt silenced or not throughout their lifetime. I think sometimes it’s really wonderful to just make a start, you know, and then just kind of continue to practice that again and again and again. I think stepping outside our comfort zones is really important as part of growth as storyteller, and also part of just growth as we’re developing as humans.

But I think it depends on what someone has been through. If someone has been through a lot of external trauma, it might make a lot more sense for that person to just keep a journal for a while and start to really go inward, and really just express things to themselves. And for someone that has had those experiences, it might feel unsafe to share stories in a group setting. It might feel unsafe to try to get onto a stage and that’s going to be very different than someone who’s maybe they’ve had no problem. They kind of have been writing for a while and they’ve been talking about themselves, and constantly in their lifetime they’ve been met with affirmation. And so for them the perfect thing to do might be to look outside themselves and like, okay. well, what community writing group can I join? How do I step onto a stage? Because I’m afraid of public speaking, but all the barriers are internal, and so how do I meet them? 

So it, it’s hard to give kind of a canned answer to that question, but I do believe that if you’re listening and you know that there are stories within me that haven’t been told that I want to tell, I think starting there and then just telling those stories as often as possible to yourself and to safe people. That intuition, Damianne, you spoke about intuition and discernment earlier and I think that those are things that people can really develop as they get more in tune with themselves and as they continue to kind of check in, and bring things to light more and more and more. 

So I would encourage people to start somewhere, start wherever they are, keep on practicing. It doesn’t have to be daily necessarily, but certainly like on a weekly basis, multiple times a week, find ways to express you to yourself and or to others. And then build on that. And as that storytelling, those muscles, kind of get more and more developed, continue to listen for those intuitive nudges to do more or to stretch further. But I think, we have to kind of be available to where we’re available to start and then trust that will evolve beyond that in time.

Damianne President: [40:34] Before we move on to the fast five, our final five questions, is there anything else that you’re working on that you want to make sure people check out, tell people where they can find out more about you as well. 

Daralyse Lyons: [40:45] Oh, yeah. thank you so much for that. So I would say two ways to connect it’s with me are through my website and then through    Since your listeners are already podcast listeners, I hope they will subscribe to the Demystifying Diversity Podcast anywhere they get their podcasts, and people can find me on either of my websites and send me messages through social media or through those websites. But listening to the podcast I think is also just really beautiful and empowering. And then in terms of what I’m working on, because of the whole thing I talked about earlier, I’m never not working on four or five things at the same time, but now I’m doing some work on season two of the podcast and getting that ready and kind of combing through interviews and writing those scripts. And I just finished working on a young adult novel that I sent to my agent who also has a background in editing, so once she gets through it, I’m sure she’ll be sending me back her comments and then, yeah, just doing some different things, like preparing for a Ted Talk and I’m hosting a panel for a journalist conference. So a lot of really cool, fun dynamic things that I’m working on, all of them just like such a gift. So yeah, a lot of things in the pipeline.

Damianne President: [42:15] All of those links will definitely be in the show notes. So now our fast five, and those are questions where you can answer with maximum of one sentence. 

Daralyse Lyons: [42:26] Got it. Okay. 

Fast Final Five [42:27]

Damianne President: [42:27] So you have a high power meeting coming up. What do you do in the 12 hours before that?

Daralyse Lyons: [42:36] Over-prepare and then stress. 

Damianne President: [42:40] Do you have a phrase or a pep talk you give to yourself for motivation? 

Daralyse Lyons: [42:46] I look at my own eyes in the mirror and I pray.

Damianne President: [42:51] Where do you live and if you’re having guests, what’s the first thing you show them or the first place you take them to? So you live in Philly.

Daralyse Lyons: [42:58] I live in Philly, yep. In the pandemic times, it’s such a hard question to answer. 

Damianne President: [43:04] Let’s think of the best of times.

Daralyse Lyons: [43:05] Okay. All right. 

Damianne President: [43:06] This is idealistic. 

Daralyse Lyons: [43:08] In the best of times, I probably would take them to Longwood Gardens. It’s just like this beautiful, outdoor scenic place.

Damianne President: [43:17] Okay. I’ll have to keep that in mind.  What is the thing that’s guaranteed to recharge you and increase your energy?

Daralyse Lyons: [43:22] Oh, journaling, always, and dancing. Yeah. 

Damianne President: [43:28] Last one, you have a free day, so you’ve been given some time affluence and you can do what ever you want, again idealistically. What are you doing on that day?

Daralyse Lyons: [43:38] Right. Gosh, I’m so boring because I live a life that I love. 

Damianne President: [43:41] I love that answer though. Stick with it. Claim it. 

Daralyse Lyons: [43:47] I would be doing exactly what I’m doing except with more hugs. That’s what, that’s what I’m doing. 

Damianne President: [43:56] I love it. 

Well, thank you so much for chatting with me today, Daralyse. 

Daralyse Lyons: [44:00] Oh, thank you so much, Damianne. It’s been really lovely to be with you and with all your listeners. 

Damianne President: [44:06] Likewise. 

The stories we tell ourselves and others shape the lives that we live.


It is simple and it is hard to unlearn the way that we’ve been conditioned.

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