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On Nov. 1, I woke up in a house not my own. I walked to the front door and looked out. I see beautiful old homes and trees with hanging moss, and I know I am no longer in Coconut Grove. I am now living in DeLand, a quaint little town in Central Florida. I pinch myself and say out loud, “This is real.”

SERENE VIEW — The photo above shows a view out of a window from a front porch into a DeLand neighborhood, specifically Sans Souci Avenue, along with a morning helping of tea.


As a former registered nurse and midwife, it was easy for me to wear a mask, wash my hands and stay socially distant. I stayed home; did my supermarket shopping online.

As an attorney, I attended all court hearings via Zoom. When I went to the post office to mail online orders for Desert Sage, my lifestyle-wellness company, I wore a mask and gloves, and kept my distance.

Then the news kept coming. The virus was spreading, people were getting very sick and some were dying.

I dug in. I stayed home. No one visited me, and I visited no one. I read; took online courses. I cooked and posted photos of my food on social media. My friends pushed me to do a cookbook. I did — My Journey With Food in the Time of Coronavirus.

NONTRADITIONAL THANKSGIVING MEAL — The photo at left shows Lorna Owens’ first Thanksgiving meal in her new DeLand home: lobster claws, along with grilled octopus and roasted sweet potatoes.


For once in a long time, I was left with my thoughts. I found that even though I loved Coconut Grove, it no longer served my emotional or spiritual needs. I was beginning to feel uneasy in a town I loved.

I gradually realized I didn’t need all the stuff I had. What I really needed was the peace and quiet of a small town. 

Around that time, I started hearing a small voice telling me it was time to move. It was a comforting voice. I felt guided. I started looking. Where would I go? Would I leave the USA? Would I go to South Africa? I love South Africa, but it was too far from my family who live in Canada.

I have always loved the small towns in Florida, so I decided I would stay in Florida. I started looking for a small town on the water, but nothing really resonated with me. 

Then I remembered that I knew someone from Coconut Grove who had moved to a place called DeLand. One of the first things she said to me was the food was really good there and the people were nice.

Carol Lopez Bethel is a foodie like me. I trusted her judgment on food.

I researched everything I could find on DeLand. I watched every video. I started feeling I could live there.

I visited, and fell in love with what I saw. In six weeks, I made the decision to move. When I told my family and a few friends, they were all shocked.

The confirmation that I had made the right decision came late one night when I returned a missed call from a person whose name I didn’t recognize. 

Turns out the caller was an attorney friend whom I hadn’t spoken to in more than 15 years. When I inquired about Atlanta, she said she no longer lived in Atlanta, she was now living in DeLand. When I told her I was moving there in two weeks, we both started yelling. She had not intentionally called me; it was a pocket call.

I am not sure why I moved to DeLand. All I know is I was guided to move here. I take long walks around my neighborhood. I enjoy the Friday-night Artisan Alley Farmers Market, and I am finding little restaurants and shops that I love.

I live in a small soulful house in town. This is my life now.

— Owens is CEO of Desert Sage, attorney, author and founder of the Footprint Foundation. Email her at Lorna@desert-sage.co.



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