How To Be An Aspiring Health & Wellness Expert, Baker, and Letter Writer: Meet Barbara D. Sykes

Current City: Seattle, Washington

Hometown: Harvey, Illinois

Hi Barbara! Welcome to The Boss Diary! So glad you’re here. Let’s start with your experience as a volunteer. Why did you decide to join the Peace Corps, and what did you learn about yourself while serving abroad?

I joined Peace Corps because of a desire to gain experience of the continent of Africa.  I had wanted to join when I lived in Atlanta, GA and my daughter was 5 years old. I wanted her to have a life exposure living in another country – something I didn’t see many African American citizens experience.  I learned many things: I care a lot about people’s wellbeing; my unrecognized privilege as a US citizen; the strength I have to accomplish things; I’ve not been living my full potential and sharing my gifts; I felt appreciated for the work I do. The first year back was quite difficult; the adjustment period was quite long (over 15 months).  I hid/stayed in the house for the first three months. I slept a lot. I felt out of sorts, out of place.  I longed to go back to Ghana. People and places were different – a bit unrecognizable. I was more assertive and unforgiving toward people about their complaining and “1st world problems”

I know that you love to meditate and write. Can you tell us more about how these help you in your day-to-day life?

I journaled and meditated every day while in Peace Corps.  It was my way of staying calm and centered. I gained direction on what to do each day and for the week, what was needed for and with the children and adolescents.  I wrote sensual prose to soothe my loneliness. I wrote letters to family and friends to keep them abreast of my activities and share a small piece of Ghana with them.

Everyone has a purpose, and it’s so refreshing to find women who are truly living out their dreams.. How would you define your own purpose?

I’ve had challenges knowing what my true purpose was.  I thought it was only one thing growing up and if that’s the case my core purpose is to be of service to those who need it; yet I realize I have many purposes: to connect with people – know that they are seen and that they matter; to bake southern deserts – to share the goodness and memories of my grandmothers who both baked; to help people get healthier – a strong community.

Who are some of your favorite business women or entrepreneurs that you look up to?

Natalie of TheTinyCloset, Dr. Kristian H of BLK+GRN, Paolo Mathé of Fanm Djanm, Chef Kristi Brown of That Brown Girl Cooks.

Tell me one thing that most people may not know about you.

I’m shy.

Are there any projects you are working on, and/or upcoming events that we should know about?

Working on getting my small baking business launched.

Name one thing that your hometown city is known for that some people may not know.

The Dells (R&B vocal group) from Harvey.

What would the “21-year old you,” say to you today?

You’ve accomplished so much.  Though you doubt you were strong enough to do many things, you’ve never stopped striving for better for yourself and your daughter.  You’ve had some detour, some heart aches and disappointments but you continued on. Give yourself some credit and keep going.

Before you go, what is one piece of advice you would give to women out there who are looking to change their lifestyle?

Know what you want to do, write it down and start off slow – your lifestyle is not a race, it is what you want to embody and evolve over time.

Fave 7:

  • Summer Activity: Sitting on a bench in the park soaking up the sun
  • Restaurant in my neighborhood: Tulio (my favorite – not in my neighborhood), 
  • Podcast: Clever Girl Finance, The Burchard Show
  • Lipstick: None – need to find a good one
  • Color: Bronze yellow, Orange
  • Social Media App: Instagram
  • Disney movie: Fantasia (1940)

Random 7:

  • If you won $20 Million in the lottery, how would you spend it? : Invest $2.5 Million in 401k, $3.5 Million set up scholarship foundation for students (here & abroad), $2.5 Million pay off debts (mine, hubby & my family – parents, brother, sister, daughter), $4.5 Million set up trust funds (daughter, nieces)
  • Describe best friend: Snarky, poignant, objective
  • Last good book: The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty
  • Best Concert: Sade
  • Number 1 travel destination: Kyoto, Japan
  • Current celebrity crush: Drew Barrymore
  • Bucket list: own a villa in Portugal, dress up in Carnival (Trinidad), visit the Giraffe Manor in Kenya

Blog page:

Instagram: @barbdsykes