The SJ stands for Samuel Joseph. My mother picked those names out of the Bible. I imagine she felt giving her illegitimate son two biblical names would lead him to a life of divinity. Boy, did that backfire? Born in Charleston, West Virginia, in 1947, I lived in Baltimore’s inner-city until I was eleven. In 1958 my so-called family and I moved to Lakeland, a newly built blue-collar community located two miles from the Baltimore County line. All my early lessons in life would come from the streets of Baltimore and Lakeland.
Today, along with the college courses and computer training I’ve taken, my teachers are Napoleon Hill, Zig Ziglar, Earl Nightingale, Deepak Chopra, Dale Carnegie, John Maxwell, Eckhart Tolle, and, of course, Jesus. Whenever I finish a book by or about one of these men (I read each one three times) or a DVD, I type up the key points I want to retain and file them in a folder under a specific title. After twenty-five years of intense study and real-world practice, I have folders full of gold and experience to match. My education has not come easy. Like all life lessons, Streets smarts have a price (sometimes the temporary loss of freedom), as do scholarly achievements. The two together provide a well-rounded assessment of what works in life and what doesn’t. I’ve been fortunate enough to walk on both sides of the street. After careful consideration for all persons involved, I’ve decided to share that walk with interested readers. My first literary offer is “The Misadventures of a Dysfunctional Family.”