We had the good fortune of connecting with Chris Loraine Wells and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Chris Loraine, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
Work-life balance: How has your balanced changed over time?

Early on in my career, my commitments were divided between work (always putting my best efforts in everything I did – if my name was on it, it was going to be the best) and family (always wanting to be a good parent and provider). Both of those created more stress than I realized at the time. However, after a divorce, job changes and a heart attack it truly became time to re-evaluate absolutely everything.

I was not happy, had lost what I previously thought was important, the outlook for the future was dim and thoughts of suicide were growing. What was the one thing that brought me some sense of joy – being out in nature.

I had been an educator, successful sales person, manager and entrepreneur. I believed, in hind sight that it was my self-imposed stress to be the best was behind my heart attack. That was my “wake up” call.

How do you think about balance?

I love the sayings of Lao Tzu but the one in particular that rings true for me is: “Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished”.

I took up photography at age 60 in an effort to try to capture nature in a way that when I looked at my photos later I could easily recall my thoughts, emotions and feelings when I beheld these places. Getting out into nature, hiking, doing photography, just being there restored – and still does to the day restore – my balance. And not only restores my balance but helps me keep stress, or the lack thereof, in perspective.

I took my love of nature and photography and wondered if a local senior community might be interested in my sharing that with their residents. That was 5 ½ years ago and the success I’ve had is beyond my wildest dreams. To date I have done almost 1,500 presentations at about 150 senior communities in 13 different states. I now have 42 presentations on Nature, National Parks and Travel.

The absolute best experience is seeing the memories I spark in the eyes of the senior residents I am speaking with. I promised myself I would only do presentations that I could be excited about and to let my enthusiasm explode in my talks. I love what I do and I know residents love my visits every month.

In staying balanced I have diminished stress in my life, get to do something I truly love which keeps me in a positive mindset and have attracted a business that is a Win-Win-Win —– even in retirement. It’s never too late to start over.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I always felt I could be creative but life kept getting in the way. It was impressed upon me to get an education so you can get a good job and provide for a family. There was no time to be creative – or that is how I lived my life. As an out-of-the-box thinker I often brought my creative side into the work place with new and innovative ideas. As I got older, I found myself disappearing into nature and loving how I felt when there – no judgment. Nature accepts you as you are and is grateful for it. After my heart attack, I knew things had to change and one of the big decisions was to take up photography — at age 60. I was hoping to learn how to capture the beauty of nature so that when I looked at those images later I could immediately recall that magic of that moment.
My photography was for me but then doors started opening up when people saw my images. I was asked to be a featured artist at a gallery. I joined several photography groups that opened my eyes to things about photography I never knew. Then I got to thinking maybe I could share some of my joy with others, I approached some senior living communities about sharing with residents and results amazed and continue to amaze me.
You are never too old to start something new. If your heart and soul is in what you love to do, the rewards are incredible. And I don’t mean monetary. I do what I do because I love it and not to get rich. My richness is in the lives I touch daily.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Without a doubt we would head into the mountains of Colorado. We would start with a trip into Rocky Mountain National Park to places like Sprague Lake, Lawn Lake Falls, hike to Mills Lake and Black Lake then head over Trail Ridge Road to have dinner in Grand Lake. Then we would head toward Gunnison to take in Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. From there we continue to the majestic San Juan Mountains and Ouray, the Million Dollar Highway, Silverton, up a gravel road to Animas Forks, the highest mining and now a ghost town in America before resting up in Durango. From there we are off to Telluride via the gravel Last Dollar Ranch Road. After a ride on the Durango-Silverton railroad we would be off to Mesa Verde National Park then on to Page, AZ for a magical trip into Antelope Canyon. On our way back to Denver, we would stop by The Great Sand Dunes National Park before bringing the beautiful back roads home.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
While I have an entire lifetime of friends who have been instrumental along the way, my biggest shoutout in my life now is to the senior living communities (Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care & Dementia) who have shown me the love, support and encouragement to let me do what I love.

Website: http://travelswithchriswells.com

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/cwellsabml/

Facebook: https://facebook.com/cwellsabml

Image Credits
Any images posted are from my photography collection.

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