When you read about entrepreneurship, or start looking into becoming self-employed, you’ll hear the usual things: set up a website, have a social media presence, understand your target market, and make sure there’s a need for what you want to offer. And, sure — all of those things are important.

But there’s a whole other side to self-employment that no one really talks about! There are skills you need that no one prepares you for, and there is stuff that comes up that you weren’t expecting.

Here are 9 things that took me by surprise in this entrepreneurial journey, so that you can be better aware of what to expect:

1 | THOSE CLOSEST TO YOU (FRIENDS, FAMILY, SPOUSE) WILL PROBABLY NOT BE SUPPORTIVE OF YOUR DREAM

They’re certainly not going to be as passionate or excited about it as you are… but, that’s okay, as it’s not their dream — it’s yours!

It helps to get yourself into Entrepreneur groups — surround yourself with others who get what you’re going through — and to turn to them with your highs and lows in business.

Family will probably worry about you and, meaning well, encourage you to go out and get a “real job”. Don’t let that deter you. Just know that they aren’t going to understand, and continue to do your thing.

2 | YOU WILL NEED RESILIENCE & PERSEVERANCE TO BE SUCCESSFUL

As an Entrepreneur, you will learn that failures are simply a part of the success process… so long as you learn from them. If you keep getting up, and keep pressing forward — if you’re willing to fight to see your dreams realized — then, in time, you will succeed. You just have to be willing to do whatever it takes to keep going.

3 | (ALMOST) NONE OF IT IS ABOUT YOU

This one really took me by surprise. When I first became self-employed, it was all about me — how much money I could make, what kinds of things I wanted to do or liked doing, colors and fonts and design styles that matched my tastes.

Yet, over time, I’ve come to realize that it’s really about the audience I want to help. They, after all, are the ones with the power to determine whether what I’m offering is worthy of their time, or worth their hard-earned dollars.

My audience and their needs and desires are the most important factor… everything I do as an Entrepreneur must take them into consideration. What do they struggle with, and how can I help? What colors and designs appeal to them? What do they want or need to learn about through my content? What will they see as valuable? It’s all about serving my audience.

4 | YOU MUST GIVE IF YOU WANT TO RECEIVE — SOW, IF YOU WANT TO REAP

A common misconception of new entrepreneurs is that you can set up a website, and put up this great sales page with your amazing offer, and — bam! — you’ll start making the big bucks! Yet, it doesn’t work that way. Firstly, because you need to actually tell people that your offer exists (they won’t just stumble across it, and be amazed), and secondly because, when you’re first starting out, people don’t yet know you. In order for them to buy from you, they first need to have a good understanding of who you are (as a business) and what you can do for them (see point #3, above). So, patience is needed, while you educate others about your business. Which brings me to the next point…

5 | THERE IS SO MUCH WRITING!

They say “content is king” — and for good reason. In order for your audience to get to know and like you, they need to be educated on who you are and what you are offering them. You need to show them that you know what they’re dealing with, and why you are the best person to help them solve that problem. How you do this, as an online entrepreneur, is through writing.

You write content for your website and blog, you write posts for social media, you write content for your email newsletter, you write copy for landing pages and sales pages and ads … it feels as if writing is your main job, even though you never signed up to be a “writer”! (Don’t like to write? That’s okay — you can hire someone to do it for you. But be aware that, first, you’ll need to be clear on your message, and on the tone you are wishing to convey).

6 | MARKETING AND SALES ARE KEY SKILLS YOU MUST HAVE (OR BUILD)

A lot of people have a really negative view of sales, and think “marketing” is a complicated thing. Thus, they try to avoid these two skills. Yet, the reality is, most of us are just misinformed about what each of these things really is, and we only have our experiences with others’ attempts at these to base our knowledge off of.

Based on what I’ve learned:

Marketing is simply creating awareness of your business, and what you can offer other people. That’s it, in a nutshell (not so complicated, huh?).

Sales, on the other hand, is simply educating others about what your offer can do for them, and then giving them options, and the choice of whether or not this is right for them, at this time. The idea that sales is “pushy, icky, slimy, convincing, or coercing” is wrong. When sales is done correctly — from a place of being of service to your customer, and allowing them to choose what’s right for them — it takes all of the “ick” out of it, and ends up being a win-win for everyone involved.

And truth be told, you cannot have a “business” if you aren’t willing to sell, or to marketing your offerings. These are foundational skills.

7 | YOUR PERSONAL GROWTH GAME WILL BE STRENGTHENED

… that is, so long as you’re willing to stay in the fight, and keep pressing forward!

I never would have imagined how much being an Entrepreneur would grow me, personally. It really is more about who you’ll become in the process, than what you do. I’ve become more patient, more resilient, mentally stronger, and I’ve developed more of a servant’s heart through running my own business.

There are also many mindsets and limiting beliefs you’ll need to work through in order to grow and succeed. It’s definitely not easy! But it is so very, very worth it.

8 | COACHES, MENTORS, & GUIDES ARE KEY TO MAKING PROGRESS

… and I’m not just including this point because I am a strategist/guide! I honestly wouldn’t be where I am, today, if it weren’t for the wonderful people and coaches who gave me their time and shared their wisdom and insights with me, along the way.

There were times, in my journey thus far, where I was so confused and frustrated, and I could not see a way forward. Yet, in reaching out to, and then talking through things with these coaches and other entrepreneurs, they helped me to untangle the messes inside my head, work through the mindsets or beliefs that were holding me back, and they gave me the encouragement and support I needed to remember why I’d started on this journey in the first place. I am forever grateful to each and every one of them for their help!

Side note: I didn’t always have the money to hire someone, so I took advantage of the free 30-minute calls offered by these fellow entrepreneurs — often in exchange for a testimonial they could use. So know that, no matter what, the help that you need is always available. However, if you can afford it, I also highly believe in the value of investing in a coach. You gain so much clarity and confidence in being open and vulnerable with someone else, and letting them hold you accountable!

9 | STRUCTURE, SCHEDULES, & TIME MANAGEMENT AREN’T REALLY THE “EVILS” WE WANT TO BELIEVE THEY ARE

I’ve always been fiercely independent, and hated limits and being “confined” in any way. In fact, like many who branch out on their own as Entrepreneurs, they whole reason I wanted to be self-employed was so that I could have the freedom to do things my own way, on my own schedule, and without the restrictions one typically finds in a traditional work environment.

Yet, after several years of “winging it” — doing whatever I felt like doing, each day, without any real rhyme or reason — and not seeing the kind of success I’d hoped for, I came to realize that it really is important for entrepreneurs to create (and then follow) some kind of schedule.

Without structure, it is really easy to lose whole days “lost in the scroll” on social media, or to spend your time working on things that seem important but aren’t really moving your business forward, or creating income (again, speaking from experience, here!).

One of my favorite time management / scheduling hacks is Michael Hyatt’s “ideal week” (you can read more about that, here). He groups similar tasks together, and then assigns them to days of the week. So, for example: Mondays might be for marketing & promotion, Wednesdays for research & development, and Fridays for content creation (writing, recording videos, etc).

Personally, I love how flexible this method is — allowing me to still choose what I’ll do on any given day, and how much time I will devote to each thing, so long as it falls under that day’s category. It allows me to still work according to my moods, and to not feel confined.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

LEAVE A COMMENT and let me know which of these stands out as most surprising to you! Or, if you’re already self-employed, I’d love to hear what you, yourself, discovered in your journey that the “business” books hadn’t prepared you for.

In the Spring of 2001, my friend Mary invited me to her house for a party. I didn’t get to see Mary very often, as we were both busy with our young families (my daughter was 8 months old, at the time, and my son had just turned three). So, I was excited to go see her … and to have a much-needed night out!

As it turns out, this was a Pampered Chef Kitchen Show — a direct sales presentation. I’d never been to one before, but I found myself really wanting to try these products! And so, I ended up booking my own party, after hearing how I could possibly earn the stuff I wanted, for free.

Now, when I went home that night and excitedly told my husband about these products, I was already thinking about possibly joining The Pampered Chef as an independent consultant, given that I’d always wanted to work for myself, and our family could use the extra income. With hubby being Italian, he loved the idea of the stoneware, so when I told him that I could get that, plus some other items, all at a discount, and potentially earn us some money, he said to go for it!

So, when the night of my party came, I signed myself up as a kitchen consultant, and my journey began.

For the next 3 years, I went to various homes, giving the same kind of demonstrations that I’d witnessed at my friend Mary’s house, that first night. As it turns out, I was pretty good at this gig — despite the fact that I hated to cook, hated wearing an apron, and really hated public speaking! Yet, none of it felt like “work” because I was getting paid to have girls’ nights out! It was fun!

In 2004, however, my well ran dry. I’ve never been “pushy”, so after I’d gone through my family and friends, and some of their friends, I wasn’t able to find anyone else to host shows for me, nor was I having any luck recruiting. So, I ended my stint as a consultant for The Pampered Chef. (note: I’ve since learned that it’s not really necessary to be “pushy” … you can learn to have people coming to you, rather than you “pushing” your stuff on them!)

Fast forward to 2016 . . .

In the past couple of years (2014-2016), I had thought that it’d been long enough, and I could try again with The Pampered Chef… so I re-joined in 2014, but it didn’t work out. Then I tried Jamberry Nails, but found myself allergic to the glues. So again, it wasn’t for me.

Around this time, my friend, Sarah, had joined Beachbody, and was having great success. She invited me, a few times, to take a look at the opportunity, but I’d just joined the gym, and was paying for a membership there, so it wasn’t until a year later that I found myself saying “yes” to Sarah’s invite. After all, I’d watched her have great success, over that past year, so I figured that if she could do it, so could I! And, I signed up to be a coach through Team Beachbody.

Shortly into my time as a Coach, I discovered a couple of things that got me questioning whether I should stay: (1) I was allergic to something in the shakes, so I couldn’t drink them; and (2) I didn’t really care for the method being taught for getting others to join as customers, or as fellow coaches. I was beginning to really love the Team Beachbody culture (it felt like family), and really felt I’d found “my people” – those who “get” me. Yet, I knew there had to be a better way to go about things. So, I started researching.

The more I researched, the more I fell in love with the network marketing profession, as a whole. There is so much potential for transformation, here… it was undeniable that I’d stumbled onto a part of my calling. A fire had been lit within me, and it was starting to change a lot of the things I’d previously believed.

For example, through network marketing, I’ve come to see:

  1. It’s not about me … it’s about serving others. The more I help others to succeed, the more that I, myself, succeed.
  2. It’s about so much more than the money — it’s about making an impact… making a difference in others’ lives… and about building a community, or team, of people who have this shared goal.
  3. Network Marketing is a business-in-a-box! The “big” stuff is done for you (product creation, order fulfillment, shipping, customer service)… and you get to be self-employed and still earn a decent income!
  4. The potential for changing your family’s financial legacy is incredible.

Network Marketing brought me the added benefit of helping me to become a better entrepreneur. I’d already had my own business, working from home, for 3 years, when I started to really explore this profession more seriously, in 2017. Yet, there were elements I was struggling to learn on my own. This profession taught me how to zero in on my audience, and how to become a much better marketer (which is a skill of the future, by the way), among other things.

This opportunity also changed my perspective around money. In the beginning, I had a really limited view of what was possible. I believed that there was only so much I’d ever be able to earn, and that some people were just luckier than others (luckier than me). Yet, after meeting –and becoming friends with– so many people who have stories of going from where I’m at, currently, to completely changing their family’s legacy, I found my perception changing about what was possible for me and my family. I no longer believe that a successful, financially-secure life is only for the “lucky ones”, or those who are somehow blessed with different skills or more talent than me. Instead, I know that it’s simply a matter of willingness — being willing to work hard for what you want, dream bigger, help others get what they want, and being willing to take action toward making your dreams a reality.

It took me a year, or so, of trying various companies, and refining what I was looking for in a network marketing company. I wanted something I could see myself building for the long-term, as I was learning that it’s going to take time to see any true growth from this. I also needed to find a company whose values reflected my own, and whose culture, leadership, products, and compensation all fit with my own needs, preferences, and situation. Funny enough, too, my final choice came down to what was going to best benefit my people — my future team — and help them to thrive in the way I knew they could.

I believe we need to always have more than one source of income, especially as entrepreneurs, and to never rely solely on network marketing. You may be self-employed as a network marketer, but the company doesn’t belong to you … you are only a representative of theirs. If something were to happen and that company was shut down, you’d have no business.

As such, I teach others to build network marketing as a side gig, and to also find their own path … to find a business you can own and build, that aligns with who you are, and what you were created to do. We walk through understanding your identity, overcoming the common mindsets and mistakes of new entrepreneurs, and discovering your God-given purpose.

So, see for yourself the amazing potential that network marketing holds for your future. You won’t regret it. [Note: As of 12/2020, I’m not currently in any company, as I needed to focus on building my main offerings, for now. However, I hope to return at some point in the future!]

Yesterday, I started reading, “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” by Robert Kiyosaki. The very first lesson is that “rich people don’t work for money… they make money work for them.” And, within this lesson, another said, “we need to learn to control our emotions — to think before we act”.

Robert shares that most people (the 99%) are driven by the emotions of fear & greed… fear of not having enough money, and then greed about what things they will buy with the money they do get.

These two fears never completely go away. So, we need to learn to control them … to respond (after thinking), rather than react (without thinking).

After finishing chapter one, I set the book aside, needing time to let it all sink in. And, as I put some of my other books back on my shelf (ones I’d been reading the day before), my eye landed on “The Motivation Manifesto” by Brendon Burchard. So, I pulled it down and started skimming through it, as something in my gut prompted me to do so. And, sure enough, there was a whole chapter titled, “On Fear”. So, I sat down, and read through that chapter.

Where I started off, it talked about the “weaklings” — those who fear effort — calling them “worshippers of ease” and “escapists” (all of which struck a nerve). It talked about them having given up their power to absolve themselves of the responsibility of living a remarkable life. Ouch.

Brendon writes, They don’t have the resolve to pursue their highest selves, or any meaningful purpose … [But] what good is a life without struggle? … What mastery can there be without real effort…?

This made me think, again, about how I’ve never been driven towards “mastery” or “excellence” in anything. I’ve never cared to excel; good enough was good enough.

Yet, I’d also researched “work ethic”, this morning (along with what the Bible says about this topic), learning that it’s about dedicating oneself, and giving your all toward somethinghaving certain principles that guide your work behavior. And, in combining that with these two new insights from these books, I’m starting to see that the value of all of this isn’t the outcome or the result. Its value actually lies in the fulfillment that comes from knowing you gave it your all, and –more importantly– that God is glorified by our dedication, integrity, diligence, and commitment to the task at hand.

For me, the outcome has almost never been worth the effort I’d have to expend; it wasn’t worth me forfeiting things I’d rather be doing with my time.

But that, there, is also faulty thinking: that “my time” is my own!

God says we are to be good stewards of this life, including — maybe especially — our time… because my whole purpose for existence is to know God, love God, and to make Him knownto do as He calls me to do… not to whittle away my days, being comfortable, scrolling social media, and gluttonously feeding my ego with motivational quotes.

So, the true fulfillment isn’t in what we get from the work we do (eg. the money, or all that it could buy). True fulfillment lies in giving our all to the work, itself, because that honors God — which is the whole point! In using the gifts and talents God gave us, in service to others (with a good attitude, and with excellence), we are bringing glory to God, and being –proving ourselves– set apart for the Kingdom.

And, honoring, and bringing glory to, God is FULLY worth my time… it’s the only thing that really is!

By knowing that our joy and fulfillment come through doing the work, it seems all the more imperative to me, too, that we choose work that best uses the talents and gifts God has given us… choosing work that brings us joy.

Do you know what work best aligns with YOUR talents & gifts? If not, feel free to set up a time to chat with me (30 minutes, no obligation), and we can get you some insight on that!

Have you ever gotten into something, realized it wasn’t the greatest fit for you, and then… accepted your fate and stayed put? Maybe you thought it was the “responsible” thing to do, or that, since you’d already invested this much time in it, you may as well keep going. But, what if I told you that it was okay to quit — to let it go?

So often, we blindly follow rules and perform actions without questioning why. We accept that things just are the way they are, because that’s how it’s “always been”, or we do things a certain way because it’s what is “expected”. The problem is, we then end up just going through the motions in life, and things continue to feel boring, or routine, or mundane. We continue to do and think things, but then wonder why we feel so unfulfilled.

Thanks to a couple of books I read, recently (see them here & here), I feel like I’m starting to wake up to the possibilities.

Here’s a question for you: Who decided that you must keep doing things that way? What would happen if you changed things up? And, who said you can’t do this or that? What if you all-of-a-sudden just…did? (obviously, I’m not meaning anything illegal, or morally corrupt, okay?)

Seriously, though… I think far too many of us are left with unsatisfying and unfulfilling lives because we forget the following 4 things:

QUESTION

It’s okay — and even GOOD! — to question things; to ask “why”. Until I was in my late teens, I never really questioned my faith or the things I’d been taught in church, or even the way we did things in that church. Yet when I learned to question, I saw the flaws, and I realized I’d fallen into legalism. My faith has actually grown by leaps & bounds, ever since I learned to question why I do & think the things I do.

BE CURIOUS

Despite what they say about our poor feline friend, curiosity won’t (normally) kill you. Instead, it makes life brighter, and it adds an element of fun! We are born curious… it’s how we learn! Which leads me to…

TRY

You know that thing you’ve been wanting to do, but you’ve put off doing out of hesitation? What would happen if you took a leap of faith, and just gave it a try? Sure, you might fail at it. Would that really be as bad as you think? Isn’t regretting chances not taken ultimately worse? Don’t let your fear hold you back, and leave you with end-of-life regrets. Take chances! Have an open-minded attitude. Decide you will try the thing, and if it doesn’t work out (or you end up really disliking it), you can just let it go and try something else! You have the freedom to choose. Use it! (and hey… maybe it will work out — maybe you’ll succeed — and you’ll have a blast! Only one way to find out!)

PRACTICE

All too many of us (myself, included!) tend to forget that it takes practice to become good at just about everything. All of us start at Level Zero when we’re first trying something new. Every single one of us starts as a beginner — a “newbie”. And that’s an okay place to be. Why? Because you can only go UP from there! By practicing, you may never reach “perfection”, but you –guaranteed!– will see progress. Yes, it may take a while. The more you do a thing, however, the better you’ll get at it. Keep practicing, and you’ll keep “leveling up“! It’s the only way to succeed.

So, the next time you’re feeling stuck or bored, ask yourself if you need to throw out the old ways, and try something new. Be curious about how you can change things up. And, when you find something that does bring a spark back to things, accept your “beginner” status, and commit to practicing until you’ve gotten to your preferred level of excellence. And, don’t forget: nothing is ever permanent (except death)You ALWAYS have the freedom to make a different choice.

called to be a writerHave you ever tried to ignore something, but just couldn’t seem to escape it? I most definitely have. Let me tell you a story…

For my 10th birthday, an older friend gave me my very first diary. I still have that book today. It’s got a mint-green cover, and the pages are heavily perfumed. It has its own lock and key.

I remember, as a young girl, weaving stories in my mind as I drifted off to sleep each night. Often times they included living in a mansion, and/or horseback riding through the woods on my grandparents’ property.

Sometimes I would even speak my stories into my brown Fisher Price tape recorder.

In grade school, one of my favorite things was when the teacher would fill all three chalkboards with notes for us to copy into our notebooks… then erase it all, and fill all three boards again. I loved taking notes! And I still take notes from every nonfiction book I read, actually!

I completed NaNoWriMo in 2006. I wrote 50,911 words in 28 days. My novel still sits on my shelf, unfinished.

To this day, I keep a journal. I don’t write in it daily, any more — only when I desperately need an outlet for my emotions, and/or I need to sort through the tangled messes of my thoughts. Writing things out almost always brings clarity.

I oftentimes “pray” on paper, as well, seeking God’s take on the issues I’m dealing with. I’ll write out what I feel He’s saying to my spirit, in response, also. This practice has truly helped to deepen my faith, and draw me closer in relationship with my Lord.

Also, I’ve been a blogger since 2005. It started as a way to record the books I was reading, then morphed into a community of others who loved the book-related memes I posted each week, and then evolved over time into a place where I now teach others the things that I’ve learned, thus far… and what I am still in the process of learning.

You would think, on reading all of the above, that I’d classify myself as a Writer. Yet, for the longest time, I’ve fought that title. I’ve even told God that I don’t want to be a Writer. And yet, the thread of writing has been woven throughout the tapestry that is my life, and it seems that I, like Jonah, must surrender to the call.

I realized something, this past week, that has truly helped me to start the process of accepting this: that I don’t actually hate to write. In fact, I have to grudgingly admit that, yes, I even like writing. As I said earlier, writing is how I sort through my thoughts; it’s always been how I am best able to express myself.

The “aha!” came when I saw that what I don’t like is writing for others… and, in asking myself why that is, it all came down to one thing:

PERFECTIONISM (aka: Fear)

…I don’t like writing out posts for my blog because I feel like my writing has to be “perfect” and “polished”, or else I won’t be seen as the professional that I’m aiming to be.

Yet, every professional was once a beginner. And God even tells us to not “despise the days of small beginnings” (Zechariah 4:10).

I guess I need to learn to give myself more grace — to accept my “beginner” status when it comes to writing, and to not mentally kick myself for being so inconsistent.

After all, I teach others that practice makes progress… and I think progress is as close to “perfection” as we’re going to get, this side of heaven. So, if I want to feel more confident in this role as a Writer, I just need to keep practicing. The more I do it — the more I write — the better I’ll get.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

I’m curious… is there some title or calling that you’ve been trying to run away from? Share in the comments. I’d love to know I’m not alone in this!

overcoming distraction - squirrel!If you have seen the Disney/Pixar movie, “Up“, you probably caught the reference in today’s post title. Yes, I’m talking about… what, again? Oh, right — distraction.

The Dark Side has many tricks and tools in its arsenal to keep us from living the full & abundant life God promised us. Some of those schemes include:

Discouragement | Fear | Procrastination | Gluttony | Apathy | Convenience | Mediocrity | Doubt | Ease | Instant Gratification | Laziness | Overwhelm | Pride | Greed | Lust | Anger | Jealousy

…and, of course, DISTRACTION.

The devil knows that we are easily distracted, so he uses this to keep us from doing what God asks us to do, and he slyly makes us forget what is really important. If he can distract us, then we don’t complete the mission we were sent here for (to make God known & bring Him glory). And that makes the devil really happy.

I have been falling prey to distraction, a lot, lately. This is part of why my blog post schedule has been somewhat erratic. I’ve gotten distracted by the side-hustle I’m building, the books I’m reading, and the worst culprit of them all — social media.

Revelation Wellness shared a quote, the other day, that really hit home, for me, on this. It said:

“My concern is that our generation will miss their destiny because
they are too busy scrolling through everyone else’s.” (Christine Caine)

Whoo-boy!

So, how do we combat this distraction? How do we wake up? Is this even possible?

It is absolutely possible. “With God, ALL THINGS are possible!” And it starts with prayer.

Actually, let me back up a bit. In reality, it starts with knowing that you have committed your life to God, by accepting His free gift of being saved from sin, through faith… which then gave you the Holy Spirit within you as your Counselor, Guide, and a sort of holy GPS system!

The Spirit will nudge you to pay attention (maybe He’s using this very blog post!), and that is how you start “waking up” to the devil’s schemes. Once you start to become aware of what’s going on, then you can start fighting back! And, prayer is a good place to start.

Prayer is our call to God to say, “Hey, I could use some supernatural help here, please!” Because really, we cannot fight the devil on our own. We can try, but it won’t last — it doesn’t really work. We need God’s help in this battle.

So, we pray and ask God to open our eyes to all of the ways that the Dark Side is trying to distract us and keep us from our destinies. And we ask God to give us focus and strength to combat the temptation toward those distractions. Then we need to trust that God will help us (for when we ask for something that is already God’s will for us, we can have FULL confidence that we’ve already got it — it’s a done deal!).

And finally, we then need to get to work, and DO what God has been asking us to do…pursue that which we have been distracted from.

So again, to overcome distraction (or, any of the Dark Side’s other tactics), we need to:

  1. WAKE UP
  2. PRAY
  3. BELIEVE
  4. TAKE ACTION!

A quick example for you:

That quote from Revelation Wellness is what the Holy Spirit used to start waking me up. I recognized what had been happening (that I had been doing other things, rather than what God wants me to do), I prayed for focus and believed God would help me out, and then I took action — I left my computer turned off, this morning, in order to get this blog post written FIRST, before the online world could suck me into its distractions.

Like I mentioned earlier, maybe the Spirit is using this very post to get your attention! If so, don’t hesitate… pray, believe, and take action, today. It’s the best way to fight back against the enemy. Don’t let him steal another day. You’ve got this!

PS… As I wrote this post, my pens kept dying! I had to switch them out twice! Obviously, the Dark Side was working hard to keep me from sharing this with you!