Alpha Test Group Crushes It!


The Alpha Test Group has been going so well, if a little bumpy. We’re figuring it out as we go. The Alpha Group consists of three members and myself. They happen to be two of my sisters and one of their partners.

Erin is an incredibly skilled human. She would call herself simply a “textile artist,” but she actually can do so much more. I’m probably going to leave a few things out, but she is a seamstress, quilter, painter, dollhouse interior decorator, crocheter, bookbinder, and leather worker. She made me the most fantastic backpack for Christmas one year, I use it all the time and get so many compliments.

Erin has an “essential” full-time job, so she doesn’t have a lot of time for creativity, even during the pandemic. Before joining Art Office, she estimated that she spent under five hours per week working on her art, and has committed to bumping that up to around ten hours weekly during the period. Already, she’s created a beautiful table cloth, as well as done necessary research and planning for her upcoming quilt project. Go Erin!

Anna Laura is also a creative powerhouse. I’m sure she would say that her strengths lie primarily in the creative writing field, but I’m here to tell you that they extend pretty dang far beyond that. She has a young child though, and lots of other obligations in life, so her time is stretched thin. Prior to signing up for the program, she also guessed that she spent under five hours every week on her poetry and writing, and she’s committed to increasing that to upwards of fifteen hours.

Like a lot of us do though, Anna Laura bit off more than she could chew during her first week. Her goals were lofty, and– as they say– life happened. When we all met for our Weekly Review Meeting at the end of that first week, she explained her situation and decided that the next week, she would plan for more attainable goals.

And that’s what it’s all about! Instead of taking a “failure” to mean that you are a failure, shifting your perspective and allowing that experience to inform your future plans! It’s so easy to get down on yourself if you’re alone, but Anna Laura strengthened her resolve to learn from her overcommitment by sharing it with us. We all understood completely and praised her for her insight. Hooray Anna Laura!

Stephen (Erin’s partner) is a mind-boggle to me. I thought that my sisters and I grew up in a pretty musically-inclined family, but compared to Stephen, we’re chopsticks-playin’ fools! (Sorry, sisters.) Stephen is a composer and conductor, of some import! As well as an essayist and damn good mixologist! He makes lots of music for some pretty famous people, but tends to neglect his own creative impetus. Like Erin, he was spending under five hours per week working on his own writing and compositions before joining Art Office, and has committed to increasing that to around ten.

For myself, I’d say I was spending practically zero hours weekly on my art before Art Office. And I’ve committed to clocking twenty hours at least every! single! bleeping! week! in my home studio, on my own artwork. And so far, so good! I’m working on a deck of oracle cards right now, and have been for the past year or so. I’ve gotten more done in the past two weeks than in the past six months! Very, very encouraging.

Something happened last week, that I wasn’t anticipating, and therefore was not prepared to deal with. I completed my goals early. So I was left with half the week in front of me, with nothing concrete to work on! Naturally, I allowed myself a pat on the back, but after that, I started to slump. A nice little proverb or something says that “Without a vision, the people perish.” So true. I absolutely need something in front of me to reach for, otherwise I feel like I’m just floating in space.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have these grounding thoughts during my mid-week drift, and accidentally ended up spending the rest of the week.. mostly just sleeping. Next week (this week) is going to be different!

Part of the “Goals Sheet” we fill out and share with each other every Monday is a “Plan of Action.” It’s the place where we think critically about the individual days of the week, and how our individual goals can fit into them comfortably. It’s easy to get burnt out by having too many goals in one day. Planning for balance throughout the days and hours probably would have helped me tremendously last week. So– like Anna Laura– I’m going to put this lesson to use this coming week and do my best to structure my goals evenly and thoughtfully throughout the next seven days. Hooah!

Tomorrow is our first Beta Test Group meeting. I’m so excited! I’ll do another post next week to let everybody know how it went.

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