First I have to say thanks so much to everyone who took the time to help me. So much good advice. Maybe too much.
I've never visited an online community that offered so much advice so quickly.
I ended up with the Springfield 1911 EMP 9mm.
I tried some of the other guns recommended. The J-Frame was an acceptable fit, but the gun is too light for it to be comfortable to shoot. The Kahrs (lower end 9mms)fit very well, but again I wanted a heavier gun and apparently the K9 and T9 are hard to find. I would have to order them online, sight unseen, and possibly pay some kind of transfer fee. I tried a few small Rugers - they were either too big or too light. I mentioned the possibility of starting with a .22, but the salesperson frowned at me, so I moved on. He seemed to think a 1911, a LadySmith, or a K9 would be my best bets, but he had none in stock.
So I went another large dealer in the area. I tried more Kahrs and Rugers. There were no K9s or LadySmiths to try, but there was a very, very pretty and very, very expensive Springfield 1911 EMP 9mm (the smallest 1911 and the only one with a shortened distance between grip and trigger). It fit nicely in my hand, with my finger easily on the trigger (still not quite perfect, but still comfy). The weight doesn't feel too heavy, but it's enough to feel substantial, which I hope will help with recoil. I racked the slide and I was stunned by how much more natural it felt, since I had been struggling to do that on my XD. I could operate the slide release (couldn't budge the release on my XD), the mag release, and the thumb safety fairly easily.
The 1911 felt so good that we pulled the trigger on it (hardy har har) and got a "decent" trade in amount for the XD (still=lost money though. *tears*). The only other option was to try my luck at smaller retailers or order something online, sight unseen.
So I practiced basic operation without ammunition tonight and feel ready to try it out tomorrow at the range. I'll be taking a few classes in the next few months as well. Keep your fingers crossed for me. I'll let you know how it goes.