After 7 years of traveling the world, being a solo nomad, I believe that I have grown enough to make sensible decisions, and I have found my new home. I left my organic farm in Wisconsin in 2010 and started my escape from my unhealthy past, studying community around the world, how people connect and support each other, and looking for Community of my own.
I became a minimalist, eventually selling my car to travel around the world, for 27 months. I gave away all my possessions, and finished paying off the mortgage to the farm and started my healing adventure. I plan to never own anything again. This is mandatory on my path to Freedom.
I started my travel blog in January, 2014, when I left Mexico and my house sitting jobs, which enabled me to live in lovely San Miguel de Allende. You can read all my past posts to find out how I finally achieved freedom in my life by giving up everything and starting anew. You can read about my travel planning and details, my adventures, the places I went, and the people I met in different communities around the world. I didn’t travel just to meet other hippies, young and old. You can find this in my blog posts about the Quakers in Mexico City, the homeless in San Francisco, my visit to send Findhorn, the epicenter of ecovillages in Northern Scotland, etc.
I left my home, friends, family, jobs, marriage, growing my own food and roses to seek out a new life and discover a new and improved Diana. I lived in Southern Florida, Austin, Texas, and San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, for a total of over four years of my traveling time. But I never had a home of my own, and I lived alone. There was a lot of time for contemplation and meditation, two tools for positive change.
Some of you have said how lucky I am and how much fun I must have had. This does enter into it but mostly I travelled and lived sustainably and cheaply, not following the tourist route, but being a member of whatever community in which I was living temporarily. I met many challenges. I learned to be a stronger, better person by observing and interacting with other people in other cultures and other countries. Finally I realized how blessed I was, and my self-esteem and confidence grew as I conquered these challenges. I had to leave my life and become a new person, a person free of fear and trusting of myself and others, for the first time in my life. I chose to be happy and was fortunate to have the tools and the blessings to achieve this goal.
Now I am 71 years old. I no longer have the energy for extensive travel, although I will never stop traveling and learning and expanding my world. In April of 2016, I returned to the United States. I visited friends and family in Texas, Kansas, Wisconsin, Minneapolis, my home town which never feels like home to me, and then went to the west coast to places which were unfamiliar to me. I spent two and a half months traveling through Oregon, which, with its marvelously progressive politics, appealed to me as a possible home. I spent a month each in Portland and in Eugene and left the state, still undecided about whether I wanted to live in one of these two cities. I then traveled down to Northern California, where I had never been before. I had been to Kathmandu but not to San Francisco, lol!
During my time in California, which I enjoyed incredibly, thanks to Andrea and Evie and Summer and Judy, I decided that I would move to Portland, Oregon in the spring. I then spent two months working in Mexico and three months working in Costa Rica, thinking that the weather in Portland in April would be springlike, hahaha…
Here is my account of what I love about Portland and the difficulties of being an elderly person making a new home in a strange place and trying to find my community:
Progressive Politics, the opportunity to March and Rally for that which needs change and resistance.
Volunteer opportunities, including FoodShare, working with a traumatized children’s nursery and work with an organization that is helping the elderly and the handicapped to stay in their own homes, with volunteers coming in to help them with their needs.
Music and Dancing, including recently joining the Portland New Orleans Mardi Gras krewe. I loved my dancing opportunities in Austin, but I believe that Portland’s Music Scene is now where Austin was in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Great creativity and Innovation and freedom! Below is a photo of Willie Nelson playing in Portland in the 1950s.
I have cut the cost of my food in half, by being a member of the FoodShare program. I give $30 a month and 8 hours a month minimum of volunteer work and can come in twice a week and take whatever food I need. This is not like the food shelves or food pantries or soup kitchens or homeless shelters. This is something very unique and marvelous. We even have scholarships for those who can’t pay the full $30. Google FoodShare in St John’s and start one in your community. There is a huge organic food movement and many Farmers Markets and Community Gardens in Portland. Below is a meal from one of the two vegan restaurants on the main street of St Johns.
I miss my gorgeous roses on my organic far more than I can say. I hope I will again someday have the opportunity to grow my own food and grow roses here in the Rose Capital.
During World War I, a Great Britain nursery under threat began sending clippings of its most prized rose hybrids to a newly created garden sanctuary high in Portland’s West Hills. This continued in World War II from German nurseries and others. Today, the 4.5–acre Portland International Rose Test Garden boasts more than 10,000 individual plants representing about 650 rose varieties—some of which bloom well into October. The terraced garden attracts nearly 700,000 visitors a year.
I am proud to say that my new state of Oregon has Oregon Health Care, with free and subsidized healthcare for all children and reproductive healthcare for all women.
I have been such a spoiled healthy cow, with my Russian peasant genes, aided by organic food, as much vegan as possible. But now the other shoe drops, and I need two, non-life-threatening surgeries and don’t have the money. The Oregon Health Care Program is for people to the age of 64. Because I have Medicare and can’t afford a secondary insurance, Medicare pays 80% of the many thousands of dollars for my possible four hour long and two doctor surgery. I was supposed to try to find the money for the rest of it. I did get help from a delightful woman in my gynecologist’s office. After applying to two programs that said I was too old or too rich, making more than $1,005 per month, I applied to the hospital’s charity program that will pay almost everything. Another Blessing in Portland!
Portland has the best public transportation system in the country, according to two different bus drivers to whom I spoke. Because I am a senior, or honored citizen, as they say here in Portland, I pay $28 a month for unlimited public transportation on the bus system and the train system that takes me all over the metropolitan area. Sometimes it takes me an hour or an hour and a half by two or three different vehicles to reach my destination, but I’m retired and have the time. I loved Austin but their public transportation is abysmal.
Living in the village of St Johns
When I first moved to Portland, after connecting with a woman through Craigslist when I was living in the jungles of Costa Rica, I lived in a very poor, dirty and noisy City neighborhood. This was very negative and unnerving, after 20 years of being an organic farmer in stunningly beautiful Wisconsin, in the Driftless Coulee region, where it was never glaciated and was bluffs and valleys. Even while living in cities in other countries, I managed to find places to rent where I could walk the streets and be excited and delighted by the sites and the people. I had to escape from this nastiness in Portland.
St. John’s is a beautiful northern part of Portland, where I can walk everywhere I want to go or jump on the bus and be somewhere in less than an hour.
It has incredible parks, as does all of Portland, including Cathedral Park, which is 30 seconds walk from my front door. Also, very close is St Johns Bridge, which never fails to Thrill when I catch sight of it as I am walking down my street. St Johns Bridge, which was built by the designer of the Golden Gate Bridge, spans the Willamette River. In one of the pictures above, you can see a reflection of the bridge in the door of the dispensary.
Across the river from me is Forest Park, the seventh largest urban park in the United States, which is a natural oasis in an urban environment. Located on 1,293 acres in the center of the NW metropolitan area, Forest Park is 450 acres larger than New York City’s Central Park.
MAKING NEW FRIENDS IS NOT EASY
Even for a very gregarious and sociable person, it is definitely not easy to make friends at any age but especially at an advanced stage when people are more interested in resting and watching television and playing with the grandchildren, which are all worthy pursuits, but not for me. I have not owned a television since 1973, regrettably don’t have grandchildren and do rest when I need it but seem to have more energy than most people, especially elders.
I learned a lesson in choosing people with whom to make friends. When you get to be my age, and still have a lot of energy and flexibility and the capacity to change, you don’t have much choice in friends your own age. I also have the advantage of an extremely healthy diet, which, with my excellent genes, have made me happily healthy, as compared to many people my age or any age.
The first two people whom I thought were my friends were not. This was very disappointing but I am trying to be patient and find interesting people with like minds, who also have a place for me in their lives. This is the rub. I will keep looking for good friends and for my community. I need to find a solid community, which seems to be a good possibility because of the fine people that I’m meeting through my volunteer work.
I don’t know if I will stay in St John’s or end up somewhere else in Portland or move to another state or another country, but I have realized how blessed I am in my freedom and in my strengths and my newly gained self-esteem. Come and visit me and dance with me in Portland!