“If each of us simply looks in our hearts, and lives proactively with vision, we will be active participants in creating the bright new world we envision,” explained out lesbian Honey Ward, who has been empowering thousands of people for decades in her work as a seminar leader, life coach and activist.
I first met Honey in April of 1988 when I participated in the personal growth seminar, The Experience, “a dynamic three-day workshop that supports you to live more powerfully and provides tools and insights to create the life you choose.”
Honey, “57 fabulous years” old as she puts it, was born and raised in Southern California but relocated to Santa Fe, New Mexico in 1990.
“My parents divorced when I was four, in large measure due to my dad being gay,” revealed Honey. “In the late ’50s gay people so often married, thinking they could become straight. Didn’t work then, doesn’t work now. My dad drifted away from us, and my participation in The Experience workshop many years later helped to heal that rift. So my mom was our primary parent, and a remarkable force in our lives. She was a professional before most moms were, quite theatrical, and a genuine character.”
About her own journey, Honey explained, “The first crush I recall having was in kindergarten, on that cute teacher (what was her name?). I didn’t equate that to being a lesbian, of course. As I grew up, I continued to have the greatest closeness and intimate friendships with girls and women, although I didn’t have a name for that.
“Like most women (at least in that era), I dated men,” Honey continued, “but it never really clicked for me. Then I was 19 I met and fell in love with my first partner, and the pieces all fell into place. It was a relief for my life to finally make sense, although then the tensions of being gay in our society began in earnest. Through the course of our seven-year relationship I grew up, and grew into understanding and feeling more comfortable with myself and my life.
“Wherever you are in life right now, whether that feels dark and challenging, bland and boring, or exciting and loving, there is more for you to be, to do, and to have. There is more for you to give to the world, and the world wants what you have to offer,” stated Honey. “Sharing your gifts, from a place of wholeness and integrity, is one of the most gratifying experiences you can have. The Experience can help you transform your life so you live in that natural flow of energy, giving and receiving with abundance.”
As Honey explained, “The Experience was created in 1978 by the late David B. Goodstein, who owned The Advocate magazine, and Rob Eichberg, Ph.D., author of Coming Out: An Act of Love and founder of National Coming Out Day. They knew that full opportunity and inclusion for the gay community would come only when we love ourselves enough to come out, respect ourselves and our relationships, participate fully in business and social life, and proudly make a difference. And this workshop is the vehicle that has made that concept a reality in the lives of so many.
“I first learned of The Experience at a meeting of the Gay Rights Chapter of the ACLU in Los Angeles, on whose board I served at the time,” shared Honey. “I attended some intro events and noticed that the people involved with The Experience seemed to have something going for them, something intangible, energetic, that I didn’t experience in my own life at that time. Naturally, I was intrigued, and signed right up.
“That weekend was truly transformational for me,” continued Honey. “I settled more into my own skin, with regard to sexual orientation, relationships, expanding consciousness, you name it. I emerged from that weekend a different person in many ways, and that value remains with me to this day, now 31 years later.
“Experience founder Rob Eichberg facilitated my workshop,” she added. “Over the years we became friends and then colleagues. In 1987, he asked if I’d like to lead the workshops and I jumped at the chance. Since then I have been blessed with the opportunity to facilitate the growth and transformation of thousands of others.
“The Experience is made up of carefully designed exercises or games that let you discover more about how you operate in many facets of your life; sharing within small groups that helps to clarify and support your learning, as you impart your own wisdom among other participants; and my guidance and insights to facilitate the process for each individual,” Honey explained. “It sounds simple, and it is. And yet, the results are quite profound, as our graduates from over 25 years can attest.”
Decades into her work, Honey explained, “I find people to be more spiritually connected and conscious these days. The starting point for participation is at a higher level than it was 30 years ago. We also have a lot more straight people in the workshops, which I like. Living powerfully is a universal theme, and I really appreciate having more variety in each course.
“Coming out about sexual orientation (or gender identity) isn’t as big an issue overall as it once was, however, for the individuals who struggle, it is a number one issue,” Honey elaborated. “Coming out has always been a metaphor for living powerfully and telling the truth. It is truly a universal concept that applies to everyone...”
In addition to The Experience, Honey facilitates an advanced “Intensive” which, she explained, “catapults people into more richly experiencing their power and effectiveness in the world, focused through the lens of their personal vision.” She also offers an annual Vision workshop at the turn of the year, which is “a spiritually-oriented retreat that provides an interval of peace during the hectic holidays in which people consciously complete the old year and create clear and meaningful intentions for the new. Vision takes place at a serene retreat center in the country near Santa Fe.”
As a one-on-one personal coach, Honey helps people remove personal blocks, identify and achieve personal and professional goals, and operate more consciously. “Most coaching clients have already participated in the workshops I lead,” Honey explained, “however, it is not a requirement at this time. Coaching sessions take place over the phone, so people all over the world can benefit.
“I am so grateful to have experienced and worked with such a wonderful variety of people. They have helped me know how limited my own perspective can be, how much commonality there is among us, how I must constantly be enhancing my own cultural competence, and how much there is for me to learn (even as I teach). Bottom line, we are more alike than unalike, and we’re all in it together.”
As for her role models, she said, “I respect so many people who have taken a stand for a better, more inclusive world, and dedicate themselves to its achievement every day. There are well-known figures that fit into this category, and fame is not a requirement. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. is certainly one of those figures, and so is my partner, Sandy Davis, who helps create more thoughtful students and young citizens in the school she runs. That’s one of the great things about making a positive difference; fame and fortune are not required.
As Rev. King said, ‘Everybody can be great, because anybody can serve.’ If each of us simply looks in our hearts, and lives proactively and with vision, we will be active participants in creating the bright new world we envision.”
For more information about Honey’s workshops, check out ExperienceYourPower.com.
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