Hi there Shesaid!
A lowering link is just the ticket. My bike is lowered per the factory method (including fork internals) along with the 1.5" link and fork tubes slid 1" up in the clamps. I'll be glad to snap a picture for you if you like. This is the smartest thing I've done for me and my bike, it's made life much easier for me. I'd happily suggest you install a link before you ever throw a leg over the bike again.
But I'll have to say, I still think an XT225 might be the way to go for the first few months and miles. The XT is like a sweet but slow little sister to the DR and weighs 100 lbs less. That 100 pounds makes all the difference when you teeter slightly to one side and realize you have a chunk of metal trying to push you to the ground and squish you. The XT is happy as a lark at 55 mph all day long, gets near 70 mpg, and just the bike for enjoying the scenery. Shop wisely for a used one, ride it for as many worry-free miles as you like, and sell it when you are ready to handle the DR.