How homonyms made me cross over to the Dark Side

Apr 27, 2021 | Ryan's Blog

April 27, 2021 — There are several things I know NOW that I sure wish I’d known growing up. Wishing is not exactly a tried-and-true practice, but still…sometimes you just WISH!

Reader, I could easily describe some light-duty examples like:

-as a most-of-my-life dog person, I can confidently say (and it still surprises me!) that cats really are EXTREMELY LOVING creatures, it’s true! (let the debate ensue), or

-load the silverware in the dishwasher basket grouped by type (WHAAAAT??? life-changing)

However, I’m not here for fluff today! So, I will list few that come to mind:

-slow and steady is the best kind of progress (it lasts the longest and is highest quality!!)

-seek only to control what you can vs can’t (what a time and stress saver)

-we are so much stronger in community than flailing about all alone (and what we can achieve together is off the charts!!!)

So I don’t want to spend a ton of time bashing the “traditional” school system (because we definitely could here). but the fact is that rarely are any of those above lessons are taught past our toddling years. (Unless you translate “we are better together” as “share and share alike” LOL)

But from early on in school we were never encouraged to seek help (labeled: remedial!!) or to approach oh-so-rare opportunities for “group work” as more powerful than individual work.

NOPE. School, from Day 1, was very competitive, as early at 1st grade.


True story time…get ready…

In my elementary school, I remember taking spelling tests in this way:

1. on Monday, we took a “pre-test” where the teacher spoke the words aloud (from the list we didn’t yet have) and we had to write them down on a piece of paper (correct: on MONDAY, the day we walked in for the week!)

2. if you got them all right at that time, WOW! all the glory was yours because you had the WEEK OFF from studying any spelling words!! Clearly you already were a brilliant and voracious reader because you could ALREADY SPELL the list!!!

3. but if you DIDN’T…yeah…I bet you feel some of that ol’ elementary school stomachache RIGHT NOW, eh? You’re now singled out as “remedial” for a list you were never even given before.

WTF?? Yes, it was the late 70s. And yes, damage was done.

I have to admit something right here, right now.

I cheated one time.

YES! I did. I’m not proud.

But oh how badly I wanted to pass that damn pre-test!!! (I was being pushed to make dodgy choices here by this archaic choice of educational technique!)

The pre-test was over homonyms. (I’m thinking this was possibly 2nd or 3rd grade) I was pumped because I loved homonyms!!

“piece, peace”

“their, there, they’re”

I was doing great!! I knew these!! I was looking into the glorious sun of passing the “pre-test”!!

Then the teacher said: “It’s and its…”

WHAAAAT? I knew “it’s” but couldn’t for the life of me think of what else there could be???

So, (without premeditation) I peeked at my neighbor’s paper.

I DID!!! I’m not proud of it. She, the teacher, (who must be right) was saying that “its” had a homonym??!??!? I’d had NO IDEA. Zero.

I badly wanted to pass that damn pre-test: the key to all popularity and teacher’s golden circle glory!

On my classmate’s paper: “its” was the answer, and I wrote it down on mine.

(I’m fairly certain I passed that pre-test, just so you don’t have to wonder)

Y’all it’s been a few years (decades) since that fateful day, but I think I’m still drawing lessons (good and bad) from that experience.

The teacher was saying: if you walk in here and can prove your knowledge BEFORE I EVEN TEACH YOU, then you are deserving of the highly-prized accolade called “no spelling test this week because you are not one of the stupid ones!”

I know! Preposterous, but how were we innocent children to interpret this in any other way??

To be honest, I started writing this post with another direction in mind, but this memory came out, so I rolled with it. I want you to know that you don’t have to walk in the room already knowing the spelling list!!

The long and short of it is that you can’t receive the knowledge until you’re ready. I’m not at all condoning cheating, but the message that teacher was sending was clear. The GOLDEN ONES walk in the room already smarter than the rest. Unattainable!!


I want to go back and hug myself and all my classmates that suffered that detrimental technique!!

My message for you right now is: if you’re wanting to do something new, exciting, out-of-your-comfort-zone-scary, you DO NOT have to walk in already knowing everything!! What do you think YouTube and Google are for???

So, go for it!!! I can’t wait to see what you try!!

Share in my oh-so-awesome-and-loving free Facebook group The CALM Collaborative and you’ll get all the cheering on you need:) And no “pre-tests” required LOL:)

Ryan 🙂


My name is Ryan…

I love teaching people how to let go of the crazy and live a less stressful life. My book The CALM Method: A Guide to Ditch Last-Minute Living is full of guidance and tips for you, but the real magic is in our community. The Find FOCUS Membership is a great place to get more done alongside your peeps!!!

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