Author Interview: Patricia Lorenz

Author: Patricia Lorenz

Book: 57 Steps to Paradise

What possessed you to write a tell-all book about your past dates, husbands and interim boyfriends?

    When I moved to Florida in 2004 I met many women who were divorced and widowed, mostly in their 50's, 60's, 70's and 80’s.  I myself was single at that time having spent the last 27 years of my life raising my four children as a single parent.  I was married, divorced and annulled twice before that.  In Florida I met a number of men and finally married one in my 60’s.  Because I had met, known and dated a number of men over the years I decided to write a book about my experiences to share with my friends and anyone who is looking for love and perhaps a second or third marriage in their mid-life and later.            

What is your favorite story in the book?

      My favorite story is the one titled “Mr. Underpants”.  In that story I go from dating or at least meeting over a dozen men, thanks to online dating, when suddenly a friend fixed me up with a gentleman in her condo building.  I thought it was safe and surely he would be one step above some of the frogs I’d been out with.  The first date was fabulous, but the second, oh my.  The encounter goes from bad to really bad to horrible.  The beauty of the experience was that I was sending e-mails like crazy to four of my best girlfriends about the experience as it was happening over two days time.  Luckily I kept all those e-mails and put them in the book verbatim and believe me, I didn’t hold back my feelings about this man when explaining my two dates with him.  There’s a lot of humor in that story and I suppose that is the reason it’s my favorite.  The best lesson I’ve learned over the many years and many experiences I’ve had with various men is that laughter is the most important ingredient to a happy, healthy relationship.      
In the back of the book you have three sections:
THE ZERO FACTORS (37 things to avoid in your potential partner)
Why did you add these sections to the book?

     I believe these three sections (or appendices as they are called in the book) are the most important parts of the book, definitely worth more than the price of the book itself.  So many women and men start dating and get caught up in the moment, the romance, the dating excitement, the glitter, the luxurious dinners out, holding hands in the movie, and see only the sweet, caring, considerate side of the man or the woman they’re dating.  It becomes a whirlwind of falling in love.  But so often we don’t step back and ask tough questions of the person we’re dating.
     In the section called “The Zero Factors” there are 37 things that could potentially ruin a relationship.  I bring up these 37 things so men and women will bring up these subjects during the “getting to know you” stage.  For instance if the person is a nutritional mess who eats most of his meals at fast food restaurants and you’re a hard core vegan, this could very easily be a zero factor.  Same with religious views, the amount of time you spend with friends outside the relationship, how you each handle stress, and whether or not one of you is incredibly smarter than the other. Yoking up with someone for the long haul takes amazingly hard work beforehand.  The Zero Factors are a great place to begin to make sure you’re even on the same path. 
    In the section titled “30 Questions to Ask Men While You’re Dating” you’ll find important things like, do you drink socially or every day?  Ever done drugs?  How do you feel about making friends with my friends and how much time do you like to spend with your friends? How do you see yourself spending your retirement years?  Do you like to travel?  Sometimes we forget to discuss things like this before we fall into the arms of someone who seems so perfect.  Then, after we make the commitment we discover things we should have asked long ago. 
Of all the men you’ve met and gotten to know in your life which one was the most interesting?

The most interesting was Tony, the Relocated Government Witness.  I dated him for nearly a year during the time I was helping him write the story of his life growing up in Brooklyn and working with the New York mafia.  He ended up being a witness for the prosecution at one of the biggest mafia trials ever.  While he was testifying they kept him hidden away in Milwaukee where I lived at the time.  He was a character of the most interesting sort and provided me, a 40-year-old single parent of four, with a life of excitement and fun for those months that he was in my life.   

Do you have any regrets about never being able to celebrate a 25th or  50th wedding anniversary?   In other words, do you regret not finding Mr. Right in your 20’s and sticking with the same love your entire life?

     While I totally respect and admire couples who marry once and stay together for 50, 60 or 75 years, I have absolutely no regrets as to how my life has played out so far.  I love people, including men of all descriptions.  My life has given me three very different husbands with a myriad of experiences, feelings, and opportunity for growth.  I always say that I have grown to love my struggles.  Going through a divorce is a nightmare and I went through two of them.  But the things I learned from those experiences are invaluable.  My struggles have made me strong, more forgiving, more compassionate, more appreciative, a person with better character and certainly more interesting than if I’d had one happy marriage with the two perfect children and the white picket fence. 
     The various friendships and relationships I’ve developed over the years with different men have given me a better, more rounded sense of what life is all about. 
Right now, with Jack (who will be 80 in January) I’m hoping for ten or fifteen more years together.  But no matter what happens, I’ve learned that life is a constant ebb and flow, always changing and I, for one, find that very exciting.

What’s the most important advice you can give to people in their 50’s, 60’s, 70’s or 80’s who may be looking for a life or marriage partner?
So many of my women friends, and a few men as well, who are single because of divorce or death of a spouse  say that they will never marry again.  My advice is to keep your options open.   If the first marriage wasn’t that happy many people figure they’re better off single, doing their own thing in their own time.  Well, I can certainly see their point.  I would not want to be married to either of my first husbands for any longer than I actually was.  But the world is full of interesting, fun, smart, tender men and women.  In our older years it is extremely comforting to have someone at our side who has our back, will hold our hand at the doctor’s office, chat with us while we eat, travel with, rub our backs, turn to, cry with and just know that another human is going down the same road with us.     
      Probably because I was single for so much of my life, I knew that when Jack and I married when I was 66 and he was 75 that I would not survive in a small condo with another human at my side.  I was already living in my own paid-for condo in the same building as Jack’s, just 57 steps apart.  When we decided to get married I agreed only if I could keep and spend most of my daytime and evening hours in my own condo.  Since Jack was put on this earth to watch sports from a recliner,  I knew that as a painter, speaker and writer of books that I needed lots of time alone. Jack was absolutely fine with the idea.  And you know what?  It’s becoming a trend.  Many older couples choose to have two residences because for many of us we like being alone when we get older.  Jack and I sleep together in his condo every night.  We go to water aerobics every morning for an hour, then have breakfast in his condo.  Around 11am I head to my place to begin my day which is really no different than if one or both of us had a job in the workplace.  We eat dinner at my condo together, then Jack returns to his place to watch baseball, football or hockey in his own comfy recliner.  It’s a marriage made in heaven and continues to grow here on earth.  I am blessed, indeed, to have Jack at my side whenever we want or need to be together, but with plenty of alone time as well.

What else have you written? 

Positive Quotes for Every Day    Publications International Ltd. 2010
Serial Killer’s Soul   Title Town Publishing  2010
The Five Things We Need To Be Happy   Guideposts Books  Jan 2009
Daily Devotions for Writers   Infinity Publishing  2008
Chicken Soup for the Chocolate Lover's Soul   HCI   2007 
Chicken Soup for the Tea Lover's Soul   HCI  2007 
Chicken Soup for the Dieter's Soul Daily Inspirations    HCI  2007
Life’s Too Short to Fold Your Underwear Guideposts  paperback 2007
True Pilot Stories   Infinity Publishing  2005 
Life's Too Short to Fold Your Underwear    Guideposts hardback 2004
Grab the Extinguisher, My Birthday Cake's On Fire!   Guideposts 2004
Great American Outhouse Stories    Infinity Publishing 2004 
A Hug a Day for Single Parents    Servant Publications  1997
Stuff That Matters for Single Parents  Servant Publications  1996
I'm also one of the top contributing writers in the country to the Chicken Soup for the Soul books with stories in 60 of the Chicken Soup books.  I've had over 400 articles published in numerous magazines and newspapers; I am a contributing devotional writer for twenty-eight Daily Guideposts books; have written stories for five dozen anthologies; and am an award-winning newspaper columnist.  

I raised two daughters and two sons in Wisconsin as a single parent, and now live in Largo, Florida, where I love my empty nest and the freedom to follow my dreams while I'm still awake.  


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