I’m sharing a piece I wrote in Medium recently about myself – to share a bit of the fun I’ve had over the past six decades. And there’s much more to come….!
Hi everyone — I’m Diane. I’m a healthy food advocate, social changemaker, spiritual seeker and am currently heading back to my original love — writing.
When I was 15 and preparing for the PSATs, my mother asked me what I wanted to do with my life — my answer was to be a writer and/or philosopher. Her immediate response was that I’d end up washing dishes for the rest of my life so I was “encouraged” to get a business degree. I hated every minute of it.
After graduation, I found a creative writing master’s program in London and surprised myself by getting accepted. I packed two suitcases and moved to England for a couple years — what an experience!
Decades later, I still consider some of the friends I made there as my closest friends. I strongly believe that everyone should spend at least a year in another country, or at least outside their culture and hometown. You learn a lot about yourself when you’re out of familiar surroundings.
I left London because I was having too much fun and knew I’d never get my thesis finished, so moved back to Delaware where I grew up, finished the book I was writing (trust me, it was way too bad to ever get published…), and tried to figure out my next steps. I used to tell anyone who asked that Delaware was only a place to get out of.
Once my thesis was accepted and I knew I was getting my degree, I decided on a compromise with my parents. I’d move to New York City and work in the music industry while I wrote books. Within a few months, I’d found two roommates, rented a Uhaul, and drove myself up the Jersey Turnpike to Manhattan.
Within a week of moving, I landed my dream job at Island Records. This was 1990 when they were still above Tower Records and before the music industry fell apart. What an experience! And, yes, the music industry was still living up to all it’s cliches of excess and outrageousness when I arrived.
I spent about ten years working in music — I left Island after a year, worked for an indie label for a while, and eventually ended up at Sony Music, the corporate giant. That wasn’t as much fun and definitely not creative — I remember screaming down the hall one day that we could be selling tampons and no one would know the difference.
I started feeling frustrated because I wasn’t able to get myself promoted above a gloried assistant so met with the CFO. He informed me that I would never be promoted at Sony. That was an eye opener. So, I ended up writing a surrealistic fictional novel about the demise of the corporate music industry called Rock Gods of Acht and started sending out resumes immediately.
I ended up at a small nonprofit that worked on food and farming issues. I started by helping farmer consultants around the country hold factory farms accountable or keep them from moving into an area. To be honest, when I started, I didn’t even know what a nonprofit was — I had to work at least part time since I was 14 (babysitting to start) — I never had the luxury to volunteer or intern, so nonprofits were a new world to me.
I’m so grateful for my 20+ years working in food advocacy. I got to wear many hats — from assistant to founder to executive director and many things inbetween. I helped create an animation that went on to win many awards; got a scholarship to the TED conference because of it, and eventually organized and hosted TEDxManhattan “Changing the Way We Eat” for six years. I even got to speak about food waste at TED’s side event TEDActive. I founded a nonprofit called Change Food® that I’m still running.
During that time, I discovered Tibetan Buddhism and followed The Dalai Lama around the world, establishing a pretty intense practice. I’m not as fanatical about it today, but I took my love of philosophy and channeled it into self development and spirituality.
I’ve walked the coals at a Tony Robbins event, sat in the front rows and experienced Thich Nhat Hanh, and have endured all kinds of therapy and healing treatments like rolfing and cranial sacral. Mix all that with a healthy dose of The Who, Bruce Springsteen and other music, and I’ve had a pretty amazing life.
Covid has led me on my latest adventure. By 2019, my work mainly revolved around organizing and hosting events, so my business crumpled with the pandemic. I had lived through 9/11, Sandy, blackouts, constant noise and stress, and ended up in the epicenter of the pandemic when it first started. I knew it was time, so after 30 years living in New York City, most of it downtown in the East Village, I moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico.
It took many months to figure out where to move and find an apartment sight unseen, but the day after Christmas 2020, I found myself crossing the state line into New Mexico and tearing up. Goosebumps ran up my arms and the back of my neck. Before I’d even landed at my new home, I knew I’d made the best decision of my life. I didn’t know anyone there and had no job, but I was called. And I’m excited to discover why.
I’m now circling back to my first love — writing. I’ll probably continue to consult in food and do a bit here and there to help pay rent, but I’ve committed myself to the written word. I think I have a few books worth of experience in me now and am hoping to find the ability to share my life experiences with gratitude and humor.
I hope you’ll join me on this crazy, wild, windy journey called life. I might be getting on in years, but I have truly just started. Here’s to finding our joy!
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