While Michelle Engel worked in southern France in 1998-99 as a technical trainer, she read "Conversations With God Book 3: Universal Truth" by Neale Donald Walsh. The book led her to an Ashland retreat with the author, which led to a job working for the author's company as chief executive officer. Shortly after leaving this position, she struck out on her own conducting "life-purpose workshops," which led to her newest venture, Visionary Solutions.
Changes in relationships, challenges of single motherhood, relocations to different states and lack of connection in her life were all factors nudging Engel toward reinvention.
As an experienced math and computer-science teacher, she was very methodical and practical in her approach. She combined her technology focus with a humanitarian one. She first wrote several spiritual-education books for adults and children and promoted these. Now she describes herself as a "consciousness educator," helping people to find meaningful work and live a more conscious life.
Visionary Solutions, which started this year in Ashland, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising consciousness through education and healing.
"I wanted to make it an umbrella company for the purpose of raising consciousness and the quality of being on our planet," she says. "What I see is an organic, new-paradigm company — meaning work is going to come from the passion of our souls."
"Do you know how powerful you are?" Engel asks people who attend her "visioning" groups, aimed at helping people achieve clarity of purpose. Engel believes people can make a difference to heal the planet and also do the work they want.
"If we join together and cooperate in consciousness, we can make an instant, giant leap forward," she says. "Each person has an individual purpose, and we also have a cooperative part."
Fifteen people attended one of Engel's retreats, an "om circle" facilitated by Joan Michaels, on a Sunday evening in July. While chanting "om" out loud together, everyone sent positive energy toward a globe and focused on healing. The exercise was summarized as "gentling the heart of humanity."
"We can change the world if we envision how we want it to be and focus on solutions rather than problems," says Irene Carver, who attended a life-purpose class taught by Engel through the nonprofit. "Michelle has a good balance of intellect and heart," says Carver.
During the workshop, participants voiced intentions out loud, mapped strategies for doing work they were passionate about and got practical advice on how to set life-purpose goals.
Visionary Solutions promotes being "a master of our own ship instead of drowning in the waters of our wandering minds," says Davina Braun, an Ashland resident who has attended some of Engel's visioning groups.
Michaels, a board member and treasurer for Visionary Solutions, as well as om-circle facilitator, says the nonprofit does not have the answers to all the world's dilemmas, and it doesn't "heal" people. It is a gathering of humanitarians, she says, who want to experience and share knowledge in a life-affirming, divinely inspired way.
See www.visionarysolutions.org for details about the group or information about upcoming programs.