Spotlight, Writing

The Introvert Dreams Coloring Book is Here

The opening scene of the Introvert Dreams coloring book

The opening scene of the Introvert Dreams coloring book

Last week I posted some previews from my grownup coloring book, Introvert Dreams. I’m excited to say that early this morning the book was officially released and is now “live” on Amazon! If you like, you can grab your copy here.

I also thought I’d share a little more about why we made the coloring book. I was recently asked some great questions about the storyline behind the book, for the book review list at AskDavid.com. Here’s what I said:

Introvert Dreams features 90 pages of artwork and a storyline based on our own dreams as introverts. The story follows a woman and her cat as they wander through the vast, quiet landscapes of her inner dream world. Along the way they will find forgotten places, search for a wish-granting star, and ultimately find themselves in a loud, crowded city—somewhere she knows she won’t fit in.

As introverts ourselves, Jenn and I find that we often feel alone or misunderstood. We wanted to make this book because we want introverts to see themselves in the story. Many of the scenes are taken straight from our life experiences, like being in the middle of a raging party that everyone else thinks is fun, but only wanting to cover our ears. Other scenes just represent that beautiful, imaginary, quiet place that I think all introverts retreat to when they have time to close their eyes and dream.

This is our first coloring book, although we are both experienced authors. We brought on a talented illustrator, Maxeem Konrardy (also an introvert), who has created a whimsical, breathtaking world. We also paid attention to what colorers told us they want in a book: the images stop just short of the edge of the page, so you’re not trying to color into the binding, and none of the big scenes are printed back-to-back, so you don’t lose one when your pens bleed through from the other. We want it to be a book you really cherish and enjoy revisiting for years.

If you’re an introvert, or just someone who loves occasional alone time, this book’s for you. We hope you enjoy coloring it as much as we enjoyed making it.

I also have some good news: Amazon is currently discounting the book. Jenn and I have no control over this, and I would assume it’s temporary, but for a limited time you can snag your copy for over $4 off.

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Spotlight, Writing

The First Coloring Book for Introverts

It’s been a while. In the past year, I’ve branched out substantially in what kind of writing I do—including writing about being an introvert. I’ve known for years that I tend to prefer alone time to time with people; small groups to big parties; and quiet weekends where I can do lots of creative work. But it’s only recently that I’ve understood what it means to be an introvert, and the strengths that go along with this often-misunderstood trait.

That’s why I’m particularly proud of a coloring book I created with Jenn Granneman, the founder of Introvert, Dear. Jenn and I were at a holiday party last year talking about the adult coloring book craze (Jenn loves to color to relax). Someone jokingly suggested that there should be a coloring book made just for introverts. We started to laugh, and then realized: yes, yes there should be.

So we got to work. We reached out to several introvert artists and ended up asking Maxeem Konrardy to be our illustrator. Max and I storyboarded the book together and he brought our crazy ideas to life. Now I’m excited to say we have a finished coloring book that is, we believe, the first one ever made truly for introverts. We call it Introvert Dreams.

Introvert Dreams front and back cover

Introvert Dreams front and back cover

Introvert Dreams tells the story of an introvert who slips through the pages of a magic book. With her cat at her side, she travels through a beautiful inner dreamworld, seeking a seven-pointed star that’s said to grant wishes. But the star is hidden away in the midst of a giant, crowded city—and when she finally reaches its hiding place, she’ll find much more than she expected.

Here are a few scenes from the book:

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For Jenn and me, Introvert Dreams represents 11 months of work. It’s been a wild ride learning how to collaborate with artists, create a visual story and make a coloring book idea like this into reality. And I’m happy to say it’s finally ready.

Introvert Dreams is now available for preorder on Amazon.com. Preorders get a special discounted price of US $12.99 instead of the usual $14.99. Click here to order your copy now.

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Andre Sólo, Heroism, Spotlight

If You’re Just Joining Us…

Photo via Hero Round Table

Photo via Hero Round Table

For those of you at the Hero Round Table, thanks for checking out Rogue Priest. Here are some of my favorite posts if you’d like to learn about my journey:

It Was the First of Many Deserts

A Report from the Journey to Meet the Gods

The Heroic Life

You might also enjoy my book, Lúnasa Days:

Lúnasa Days

It’s story of a young man on a bicycle, finding his purpose in life. Check it out here.

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Atheism, Religion, Spotlight

Review of the SNS Academy Intro to Atheist Spirituality

Photo by Caleb Roenigk

Several months ago I wrote about helping test a new course on spirituality for atheists. By “spirituality for atheists” I mean a path of personal growth using tools from spirituality (like meditation) with no supernatural elements. The course could also be used by people who are agnostic or humanistic and simply want a spirituality based on evidence.

The course is produced by the Spiritual Naturalist Society, a humanist organization. They took feedback from myself and other testers, improved the course, and have now officially opened it to the public. This is my review of the course.

(Disclosure: I know one of the course designers personally. I do not receive compensation for this review nor for readers enrolling in the course.)

Course Overview

The course is a 4-week, online, mostly self-guided experience. I say “mostly” because you’re expected to complete certain modules each week. Within the week, you can go at your own pace and on your own schedule.

The face of the course is humanist author BT Newberg. While I know BT in real life, I’ve never seen him teach before and he does so with a gentle, confident delivery that makes him easy to absorb. It’s clear he’s someone who meditates extensively in his own life, and when he talks about the practices he’s speaking from experience.

The format has three parts:

  • Videos. Each module begins with a video. Most videos are about 10 minutes long (there are transcripts if you prefer to read). The videos introduce core concepts and the practices that you’ll be asked to do. Most feature the voice of BT Newberg, with plenty of images and illustrations to break up the visuals. Several modules use audio guidance by Dr. Helen Weng, a meditation researcher, instead of videos. I thought the videos were well done, insightful and to the point.
  • Self-guided Q&A. After each module is a short Q&A or quiz. There is no grade on this—the course is quite gentle if you get an answer wrong, showing you the correct one and an explanation of why. The questions are about concepts from the video and help make sure you’re following the reasoning of how to do a practice or how it will help. I personally did not get a lot out of doing the Q&A, but I understand it helps with learning retention and some people like it.
  • Forums. There is a private online forum for course students. This is a great touch, as it allows you to speak to other like-minded individuals. Small talk is optional, but each week has a prompt for discussion in the forums that led to, in my opinion, very high quality conversations.

Altogether, the total time commitment is about 3 hours/week.

What You Learn

This course is officially Spiritual Naturalism 101, an intro to naturalistic spirituality. The curriculum is ambitious—they really set out to give you a complete, hands on spiritual path. The course covers everything from understanding emotion to finding peace and fulfillment to facing death without an afterlife. It would have been easy for the course to go off the rails, but they kept it practical by anchoring each module in a specific practice.

If I had to name a main theme of the course, I would say “self mastery.” Several sections are dedicated to emotions, how they arise, and how to manage them. Clearly, awareness meditation is a major part of this, but so are lots of other, less well known practices. BT comes back often to the idea of “broadening,” or simply taking a moment to look at the larger context of a situation, in order to defuse stress, anxiety or negative emotions. That’s a shortcut a Buddhist wouldn’t take, which underscores that this course is all about what works and not just sticking to an age-old practice.

Not everything is about emotion. The course delves into what it means to live in a naturalistic universe. One module addresses suffering as a natural part of our world, and strategies for accepting that. Another deals with the anguish of knowing that death is final, and how to create meaning in a meaningless world. If you’re seeing a broad range of influences here, both Eastern and Western, you’re exactly right.

The most fascinating section dealt with myths, religion and mysticism. Maybe surprisingly, it didn’t disparage them. The SNS is very clear that it believes in none of this stuff—but it believes it can be useful anyway. BT describes his experience making offerings at the shrine of a deity he is 100% sure does not exist, and why that practice was valuable. He suggests that myth and mysticism fill a certain need in the human psyche, and can do their job even when taken as purely symbolic. “Dive deep” into the ocean of myth, he says, “And let naturalism be your lifeguard.”

Of course, this won’t appeal equally to every student. No section will—I found some highly valuable and others less so. But no section gets pushy. The course only asks you to understand the concepts and try each practice once; which ones you end up using on your own is an entirely your decision.

Criticism

So far my comments have been mostly positive. I think it’s a good course. But are there downsides? Potentially:

  • I would have liked to see a female face in the course. Make no mistake, BT is very approachable and SNS has a lot to offer all genders. But in a world of male gurus it would be nice to see a woman leading a spiritual class, especially a highly intellectual one. Perhaps a future version of the course could trade off videos between BT and a female instructor.
  • What you get out of the course will depend a lot on your existing view toward religion. It might be too “let’s use stuff from religion” for strong atheists and too “but not believe in it” for others. Whether that’s a pro or a con will depend on your point of view.

All in all, I was very happy with the course. It’s a great tool for anyone who wants to explore their personal development and “spiritual” worldview without going down a faith-based path.

The first SNS 101 course begins Sunday, September 6th. Cost is $100, or $50 for SNS supporting members (you do not have to be a member to join). Space is limited to the first 10 students to sign up. Get more details or enroll here.

Next time I’ll get back to stories from Valladolid. If you’re hungry for stories now, check out my book.

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Adventure, Andre Sólo, Bicycling, Fellowship of the Wheel, Mexico, Road Logs, Spotlight, The Great Adventure, Travel

A Music Video of My Adventure Across Mexico

My friend Pixi made me a music video(!). She assembled it from footage I took cycling across Mexico. I can’t believe it:

Riding 4,700 miles was not easy. Often I would forget the reason I was out there. An adventure can look glorious from the outside but the reality of living it is you’re just trying cope. This video made me smile because I can see how grand my Adventure looks from the outside, even when it seems pretty overwhelming from the inside. I wouldn’t give it up for the world.

Thanks Pixi! The song is “Adventure” by Be Your Own Pet.

The footage comes from the 100+ video logs I made during the ride. To get full access, become a supporter today.

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Spotlight

The Generation of the Rainbow Flag

Print available at RedBubble

Print available at RedBubble

I’m writing my post to offer my congratulations, not only to my gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer readers, but to everyone who has worked so hard to fight for GLBTQ rights. That means family members who showed their love and support, friends who stood by their friends, President Barack Obama, and all the politicians and political organizers who took up the cause.

I was 17 years old when I first met someone openly non-straight. He was bisexual, had a hilarious sense of humor, and drove his beat up Ford Aerostar as if it was on a race track. I quickly learned not only that he was a good friend, but that the homophobic ideas I grew up with were completely wrong.

What astonishes me is not that one straight Wisconsin boy could make this realization. It’s that the entire nation seems to have made it at the same time. The people of my generation, who grew up in an era when gay men were punchlines on TV and “fag” was an insult, have somehow become the generation of the rainbow flag. (To put this swing in perspective, even the conservative Supreme Court justices who voted against the decision could not say they were anti-gay. They had to offer procedural quibbles and far-fetched discrimination fears instead.) Seeing change on this scale gives me a great sense of hope for what else my generation can accomplish.

Extending marriage rights to same-sex couples does not fix all the injustice in the United States, of course. It doesn’t even end the ongoing prejudice and bigotry against gays and lesbians or, especially, transgender individuals. But I know that this decision directly affects friends and people I love, and millions of other Americans. It helps bring my struggling home nation one step closer to being a world leader.

So congratulations to everybody involved: the GLBTQ community and all of their supporters and allies. And thank you. Thank you for fighting for nearly 50 years to make this possible.

And to all my regular readers: I realize there has been a long absence in posts here. I am back at the writing desk and will resume regular updates next week.

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Andre Sólo, Bicycling, Spotlight

I ‘Andreshamed’ Myself into Doing It

I just got this from a friend in Minnesota:

It got nice finally. Like, it hit the 60’s last week and of course is down to the 20’s again but that’s March. I decided I’m going to start biking to work. But, I know I’m out of shape so I need to take this slow. First—biking to the train station to take light rail every day.

The first day the weather was great. Hooray.

Then… it got cold and kinda rainy. Boo!

Yesterday, I was biking into a gusty cold wind on the way home.

I thought to myself, I hate biking into the wind. And I hate biking into an effing cold wind even more.

And then I stopped for a second and said to myself, “Stop. Stop complaining and keep pedaling. All you have is a backpack with your effing shoes in it and 3 Jimmy Johns sandwiches. You have nothing to complain about. Andre bikes his ass all over God and Creation with tons of gear. Quit whining and pedal.”

I ‘Andreshamed’ myself into doing it. Or is it ‘Andreinspired’? Not sure. But it should be a meme.

I for one strongly support this idea. If anyone out there can turn Andreshaming into a meme, I hereby volunteer this picture:

Andre Solo Will Andreshame You

But seriously: headwinds suck.

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