Pat Labez: New York’s Joyful Sage—Global Woman Club and My Story-Encore
New York, described as a busy city brimming with the energy of innovation has seen Global Woman Club’s Regional Director Pat Labez introducing many different women to the NY chapter of Global Woman Club.
Most recently she introduced new male members which opened a door to a new future for Global Woman Club: a welcoming future for male members seeking to join.
In 2021, Pat Labez wrote a chapter for a compilation book and ever since has made an essential part of the effort to write three additional books. In ’22 she found herself eager to complete a speech for the Speaker Slam “Comeback” competition that she was still considering dropping out from. She decided to persevere and ended up meeting her side of the bargain. She placed on the top 3 in a speech competition to testify to her outstanding skills.
Pat’s choice to write stays a personal choice and her independence comes from keeping her projects private before she launches. She has experienced a loss of a most supportive family member, her late sister Joy, who inspired her about living.
Her story of overcoming betrayal, grief and starting a new chapter by writing on these circumstances holding her back, opens up to you in this interview. She finds that we all perform on the stage life provides regardless of our role.
We can all learn how to be effective storytellers and Pat’s résumé shows how successfully she performs herself. Authenticity is a big part of permitting your truth to be told through storytelling according to Pat’s expert beliefs.
In 2014 Pat awoke and was unable to move, was diagnosed with a tumour in her brain and she experienced a drastic mindset change as a result of the situation. After losing her father, finding out her mother was ill, she began what she explains to be the “Third Act Encore” in life.
Read this inspiring and rare insight into the life of a New York Director to learn vital skills and lessons.
[…] I’d always remind everyone to “find joy in the journey,” no matter the circumstance. Even in the dark periods of life, I find the silver lining, the lessons that enrich along the way.—Pat Labez, “The Joyful Sage”
What is being the Regional Director of Global Woman Club New York like? How is it different, in your opinion, from other Regional Directors’ roles?
Well, I’m one of the newer Regional Directors so I’m still learning. I’ve always been told that “New York — The Big Apple — is unique and an exception” to many things, definitely bustling and bursting with creative energy, with movers and shakers, dreamers, and visionaries, where “possibility thinking” and taking risks are met with open arms.
As it relates to Global Woman Club and my role as Regional Director, with pandemic rules easing up when I came on board, I felt compelled to initiate in-person networking events… starting with a landmark Off Broadway playhouse in New York’s Theatre District, a nice walk from Times Square!
As our Founder & CEO, Mirela Sula, says, “If you want to empower a woman, give her a microphone!” And that, we do! On stage! That said, I also felt that we needed to maintain the global connections through online meetings. So, we did our networking as a hybrid event, both in-person and online. It’s a bit more challenging, but the whole idea of “Global Woman Club: Empowering Locally, Connecting Globally” seems totally aligned!
And, of course, it wouldn’t be complete without some New York live entertainment, so I brought in musical numbers to kick off the meetings while waiting during the typical “check-in” period. It’s fun, brings people together, and we get to also spotlight some hidden talent out there, many from our own membership!
I’m also proud to have introduced the first male members of Global Woman Club New York – Justin Senense and J.D. Brookshire – who both exemplify New York’s dynamic, creative world! Both are involved in film and theater, as performers and behind the scenes in screenwriting, directing, and producing; both are also members of the LGBTQ community.
Within a very short period of time, we’ve been able to showcase the diversity of New York and Global Woman Club!
Why do they call you “The Joyful Boomer” & “The Joyful Sage?”
As a baby-boomer who felt like I was given a second chance at life, in my 60s, I set out to encourage fellow seniors to re-examine, rekindle, and reignite the joy of living… to embrace aging, to renew and repurpose talents and passion and leave a legacy (after all, it’s better than the alternative, isn’t it?). And I’d always remind everyone to “find joy in the journey,” no matter the circumstance.
Even in the dark periods of life, I find the silver lining, the lessons that enrich along the way. And so “The Joyful Boomer” became a nickname as I always aimed to amplify joy around me and the lives of others.
Not long after, however, as I began to do speaking engagements, “The Joyful Sage” became the chosen personal “trademark” by serendipity, as audiences would later reach out to me in deep gratitude for sharing many life lessons that inspire, empower, and enlighten our journeys in life, much of which are learned through experience and the most precious commodity we take for granted: time.
Yes, it is “wisdom” gained only by the grace of the gift of life.
Can you tell us about the most cherished awards you have won and what made them so special to win?
I’ve never really been one to chase “awards,” perhaps because I am more focused on the “rewards” and gratification of experiences. Interestingly enough, recently, I actually received three awards that took me by surprise:
- In 2021, during a very dark time in my life, I ventured into new territory and took part in a compilation book, Ignite Possibilities, where I wrote a chapter entitled, Find Joy in the Journey, sharing my life-changing experience as a caregiver of my sister, Joy, and her valiant battle with pancreatic and breast cancer. Even as I’d sometimes doubted the reasons for taking that leap in writing, receiving the “International Impact Book Award” for “Inspiration” was beautiful. It also ignited my journey in writing and have since contributed to three additional books, Ignite the Hunger in You by Les Brown & JB Owen, Love Remains by Tracy Stone, and Cancer Heroes by Shirin Ariff. And I am now finalizing my fifth publication as curator of a Third Act Encore book, featuring stories and lessons of those in their Third Act of life.
- In 2022, as I was desperately trying to finalize a timed speech for the Speaker Slam “Comeback” competition that got thwarted by unexpected auditions for a television show, I seriously considered dropping out of the event. For one thing, the “competition” was really more within myself, as I really had no desire to compete with anyone out there. I was exhausted and couldn’t think straight. And I had convinced myself that I really had “nothing important” to say.
Well, I decided to push through and meet my end of the bargain, regardless. End result? I placed 3rd. Considering it started out with over 280 entries and I was in the top 10, that, in and of itself, was huge. But that was really just icing on the cake. The congratulatory remarks following the speech were surprising, and, moreover, the impact of being greeted by three beautiful women whom I didn’t know, downright shocked me. “Thank you. I needed to hear that,” said one. “I came here not knowing why. God answered my prayer when I heard your speech,” said another. And the third, humbling remark “it was the most powerful message for me.”
The lesson in that is, no matter how insignificant we may feel, as I did when I thought of dropping out of the competition, our thoughts, words, and voices matter. And we CAN make an impact in someone’s life… perhaps even save a life in the process. That means something. You DO matter. That #3 award was my #1 reward.
- Earlier this year, a short film in which I had the honour of playing the lead role, began its screening in the film festival circuit. Balikbayan, “A Filipina immigrant grapples with the physical distance from the family she left behind and the cultural disconnect from her daughters in the United States,” proved to be quite challenging as I had to go beyond anything I’d ever done in the past, including speaking in Tagalog for much of the film. Its first screening in New York led to the Audience Award and Grand Jury Prize. Again, it was a testament of wonderful possibilities when one opens up to new experiences, no matter how scary they may seem.
At 65… in writing, in speaking, in acting… I have grown through it all. It’s never too late.
Being an internationally best-selling author would have made your entourage over-the-moon with joy. Who is the most important person in your support network?
My decision to write was actually a very personal, solo project that I didn’t share until the book was ready to launch. So, it was a shock to my family and friends. And the truth of the matter is, the most important person in my support network, the inspiration behind it, my lifelong cheerleader, whose voice I hear whenever I have my doubts, is that of my late sister, Joy.
She may be on “the other side” now, but her spirit is ever present. Yes, it’s a “quiet entourage” that I treasure. Others may not understand it. But I do. And it’s okay.
How did you get into writing, and can you tell us more about your journey from being an actress to a best-selling author?
A friend of mine, Catherine Clark, wrote a book, Gifts in Dark Packages. This was an example of such a situation when I found myself painfully betrayed that hit me to the core.
Paralyzed over the loss of that special relationship, I found myself grieving all over again, following the loss of my beloved sister. Although I never considered myself a writer, I feared the years were making that incredible journey fade away. I thought to myself, “maybe I should start writing about that chapter in life,” as friends and strangers alike seemed curious and in awe of my transition from long-term care to showbiz after 30 years of absence.
At that moment of silence, my heartbreak and deep contemplation was awakened by a phone call from another friend, Katherine Vrastak, who had only known me through a Facebook group, reaching out and saying, “Pat, I think you should write your story.” Coincidence? When I heard the title, Ignite Possibilities, I simply had to say, “I’m in!” Therein was the beginning of paving another path to “find joy in the journey” by telling my story and the surprises that unfolded in the process.
We are all performers on the stage of life. Whether we are acting, writing, singing, directing, producing… we are storytellers in one form or another.
www.patlabez.com, we can see just how far you have developed your talent as an entertainer par excellence. Why do you think you have an abundance of talent for entertaining?From your résumé, at
Oh, my… Thank you! Having been away from the industry in 30 years, I think authenticity and allowing one’s life experiences to bring about the truth behind the story, helps achieve the performance and, hopefully, the writer’s and director’s vision.
Trusting in oneself, whatever role surfaces, is key. And it’s not an easy thing to do. Sounds simple, but not easy. And we just keep learning along the way.
I’ve also learned not to take things personally. Rejections far exceed getting hired. And you may have given the audition of a lifetime, but if you don’t fit the look or whatever else is being considered, then we can only be grateful for the opportunity of being considered.
I’m told there are usually hundreds, even thousands, of submissions for every speaking role, so an invitation to audition extended only to a few is a gift and humbling. I’m always grateful just for being considered. We keep growing in the process.
As I’ve evolved in the performing arts and with the success of producing short films and shows, I’m now spending more time collaborating with fellow artists on TV programming, films, and stage. I love working behind the scenes and seeing stories come to life and magic unfold.
There are so many beautiful stories that need to be told that the world needs to see. Coming soon is my collaboration with Step Forward TV, an online streaming channel that merges learning and entertainment. Legacy Life TV will feature informative and entertaining shows to inspire, empower, and celebrate legacies that ignite passion, purpose, and joy in life.
More than having what you refer to as “talent for entertaining” is simply a desire to “find joy in the journey” and make a difference.
What is your why—the one thing that drives you above all else?
LIFE. I don’t take it for granted. In 2014, I woke up, unable to move, and was diagnosed with a brain tumour. This came as I was taking care of my sister with inoperable Stage IV pancreatic cancer and Stage II breast cancer.
Although the tumour was 70% likely benign, I was told that given my family history including a brother who died at age 18 from brain cancer, I fitted a high-risk category and doctors were insistent in operating. I respectfully declined. Four years of regular MRIs, and following the death of my sister and brother-in-law, I was told the tumour was “undetectable.”
What?! How? A mistake? It didn’t matter. It was a second chance at life, as far as I was concerned.
And so, there arose a shift in mindset. Every opportunity presented was approached with, “Why Not?” As long as the heart is beating, there is hope, there is possibility, and a comeback awaits. So, it is as Les Brown said, “Life is the gift that keeps on giving. Appreciate that blessing for what it is.”
Last year, I tripped and got a concussion. And discovered the brain tumour again. I know full well that with the flick of a switch, life can change. Up or down. So, I remind myself to seize the day. Carpe Diem!
What has motivated your deep passion for seniors in retirement?
When my dad died of a massive heart attack, we quickly discovered that mom was struggling with Alzheimer’s Disease. “The long goodbye” led me into the world of long-term care, from volunteer work in Hospice, Alzheimer’s Association, Council On Aging, the American Red Cross, and many more agencies, to management in assisted living and dementia care.
Now, at 65 myself, I truly understand the challenges in the Third Act — the Golden Years — of life.
How do you use the arts to restore and rejuvenate the lives of those in retirement? Why do you choose to use art, instead of workshops or workouts?
Performing arts happen to be a big part of my past, from Filipino folk dancing to Polynesian and Japanese cultural dances, it allowed me to “escape” through much of my youth and teen years, both in the Philippines and Hawaii.
Then came musical theatre in high school and community theatre in my 20s that led to a casting director and talent agent asking if I’d be interested in television.
Subsequently, roles followed in the original Magnum, P.I. with Tom Selleck, Jake and the Fatman with William Conrad and Joe Penny, and Island Son with Richard Chamberlain.
While my “Second Act” in life took me into other directions like senior services that were also gratifying, I fully understand the transition into “retirement” that often leads to loneliness and depression with the sense of being passé and unproductive. I look back and realize that those moments of performing brought about a special joy and I am filled with immense gratitude for the gift of being able to do it all again, at some level, at this stage in life — it is my “Third Act Encore.”
Being able to expand into other creative, artistic endeavours like writing and producing shows, working with others to create magical moments, inspiring and empowering others to reconnect and tap into old passions that may have gotten buried through the years, and reviving that love for life is an indescribable gift.
To see that twinkle in someone’s eye, that smile in accomplishing something they never imagined possible, to help rediscover and relive those moments is pretty special.
In fact, according to the National Institute on Aging, research in singing programs, theatre, and visual arts concluded that “participating in the arts may improve health, well-being, and independence in older adults.” And I am amazed at the number of older adults who reach out to share their hopes and dreams rekindled.
That said, being able to incorporate art into workshops or workouts is wonderful. Such is the case at an event hosted by Global Woman Club New York on May 10th in honour of National Mental Health Awareness Month and in collaboration with Step Forward Entertainment, with whom I am co-producing shows.
“Breaking the Silence: Tell Your Story. Live Fuller” is the theme, and we have amazing speakers from around the world sharing their insight and expertise on publishing, speaking, mental health and resiliency and I look forward to more collaborative projects.
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Where do you see yourself growing most in your role as Regional Director in the next 5 years? How about in your personal roles?
Given my latest medical report and many uncertainties in life, I humbly take things day by day. My hope in taking on the role of Regional Director for Global Woman Club New York has, and always will be, its continued growth and success in its mission of empowering locally and connecting globally. New York is a melting pot of diverse people, cultures, beliefs, commerce, and opportunities! The potential to be the beacon of hope and a shining star in networking is incredible!
On a personal note, I embrace each day with gratitude, believing that “A joyful heart is the beat of life,” and reminded by the inspirational poem, Desiderata, by Max Ehrmann, filled with virtues and ideals on life… “Keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.” Thank you.