Being a visionary means thinking about or planning the future with imagination or wisdom. Envisioning one’s future is a powerful tool for a successful life. This lesson gives a real-life example of a woman who decided to create her future instead of adhering to society’s restrictive views of women. It helps girls understand the importance of being a visionary and how to incorporate the character trait into their lives and relationships.
INTRODUCTION FROM HEATHER STARK: WHY AMELIA EARHART?
Amelia is an icon in American history. Everyone has at least heard her name, even if they haven’t heard her story. I have yet to meet a girl who doesn’t love the idea of Amelia Earhart: a woman flying above the world. Amelia conjures up images of adventures, and it is for this reason alone she was chosen as a Grace & Grit woman. Amelia’s spirit tells us to enjoy being a woman and understand that enjoying the adventure of living supersedes any limitation feminine stereotypes can place on us.
My mother has a favorite quote: “Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely, in a well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting ‘What a ride!’" It seems like this might be something Amelia would say. Also, while I believe most women would agree with this sentiment, very few actually live it.
I think we, as women, still feel pressure that women are supposed to wear makeup to feel confident; we should be small and do all we can to prevent our bodies and faces from showing signs of aging. And, when we give into this belief, we take away all the adventure in life. This is why Amelia is so important to me—to all of us, as girls and women.
Amelia was not concerned with the opinions of others, acceptable behavior or attaining the status given to those with beauty. She was all about adventure and encouraging other women to be adventurous in their lives as well. Amelia even went so far as to produce a fashion line for the adventurous woman to expand her wardrobe from the acceptable dress to active pants.
Learning about Amelia is like being outside on the first day of spring. It's refreshing. You stretch your muscles and clear your mind of the heavy weight of winter. Amelia offers girls a break from the pressure of perfect, filtered selfies. She tells them: Go get dirty, climb a tree and be open to the idea of getting a couple of scrapes on the way down. She urges girls to forget about makeup for one moment and go for a bike ride or to laugh loudly at something they find tickling and ridiculous. I can almost hear her spirit calling across the years, reaching out to today’s girls: Be open-minded to breaking norms and being different. Be accepting of other girls who want to be different. Stretch your imagination and picture yourself doing something thrilling and new. Envision a future full of adventure.
Amelia teaches girls that the wall between femininity and adventure is fluid, but real living happens on the adventurous side of life—usually without makeup and trendy clothing. Adventures create the stories you will tell when you are older. You won’t appreciate the memories of how you once spent three hours curling your hair to go shopping for the trendiest pair of jeans, but you will tell the story and relish the memories of how you went fishing with friends one Saturday and caught 15 catfish.
Future women leaders, I ask you to study Amelia’s spirit and slide into afternoons filled with activity that keeps you away from social media, makeup and the pressure to “fit in.” Life is about breaking out of norms and forging your own path—and just walking the beaten path is a challenge if you are more concerned with your next perfect selfie.
THE JOURNEY OF AMELIA EARHART’S LIFE
Amelia’s life was full of adventure, support of other women and daring accomplishments. She was a visionary, an explorer of the skies.
Amelia Earhart was born on July 24th, 1897.
Amelia saw her first plane.
Amelia went to college, and while studying nursing, she went to an airshow and became interested in planes.
While a nurse’s aide in Canada, Amelia attended an air show and, unlike the “thing of rusty wire and wood” she saw at the state fair nine years prior, this time, the airplanes fascinated her.
Amelia went on her first plane ride, starting flying lessons within a week. Six months later, she bought her own plane.
Amelia took her airplane up to 14,000 feet. This was a record for women pilots.
Amelia was inducted into the Aeronautical Hall of Fame for her contribution to aviation.
Amelia became the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean. She did it
again four years later.
Amelia joined Purdue University as a visiting faculty member to counsel women on careers and as a technical advisor to its Department
Amelia disappeared during her attempt to fly around the globe.
Amelia’s life was one adventure after another. She was a visionary who saw what she wanted from life and pursued it with excitement. In her attempts at empowering herself, she empowered many other women to envision their futures and chase their dreams.
CHARACTER TRAIT: VISIONARY
If girls can’t see their future, they will never be empowered. Did women in the 1800s—and even up through the mid-1900s—dare to envision a future for themselves? Or, when they thought about the future, was it in terms of: Who will my parents choose for me to marry? What will my husband’s house look like? What work will my husband do? Women rarely got a say in their futures; in fact, today, there are still countries where women have no voice when it comes to determining the trajectory of their lives. In these places, families decide everything for their daughters and the quality of their lives is determined by those around them.
Having the autonomy to envision one’s future is something today’s girls shouldn’t take for granted. Half a world away, there are girls in developing countries whose parents are not working to make their daughters independent or ensure they obtain education but instead are fixated on finding husbands for them to marry. Or maybe even deciding what work a girl will do for her family when she is older. Because that fate is a reality for so many in the sisterhood of life, those who have been blessed with the ability to go to school, dream, say what’s on their minds and make their own decisions have a duty to set a course and determine their futures.
Everyone has one life. Own your path. Be a visionary.
So, what does it mean to be a visionary? It describes a person who can see something that doesn’t quite exist yet is determined to bring her vision to life. Every business, idea, book, nonprofit, invention or electronic gadget began with someone being a visionary. It all starts with an idea and a picture in one’s head. What follows after that is a lot of grit, determination and grace.
Visionaries are resilient. They are problem-solvers and are dedicated to the task of thinking. They love to brainstorm and get excited about the opportunities to solve problems in order to bring their visions to fruition. This constant problem-solving leads to constant mental and emotional growth and maturity. It leads to owning one’s life. One vision will lead to another and another and another.
A true visionary understands she is the first to walk on the moon, so she makes those steps really count by not stopping with her own life. She breathes her dreams into the souls of others and offers them a hand up to join her, making them want more for themselves, too. Girls need to encourage each other to envision detailed futures—and, by that simple act, maybe they can help bring about a future when all women from all walks of life have that same freedom.
To be a visionary is to be empowered. Strong girls understand they are in control of their own lives and know they are responsible for determining their futures. So, make those visions count. Make a difference. Envision something phenomenal.
Below are descriptions of each item we offer as part of the Visionary Theme. Depending on your purchase, some of these may not be applicable.
- Illustrated Portrait
- Our portrait gives life to each of our sets. Amelia's illustration has her standing, hands on hips, facing the wind. Perhaps she is looking at her airplane, thinking of all she has accomplished and the fun ahead of her. Her mind probably has a new goal: a daring trick or a flip, something adventurous that brings a smile to her face.
- Activity Booklet
- The Activity Booklet highlights the themes in Amelia Earhart's life. It gives an overview of her journey and the legacy she left behind. The booklet includes thought-provoking activities that guide the readers to apply the lessons of Amelia's life to their own. Girls will understand what being a visionary life looks, sounds and feels like. More importantly, they will understand how to be their own best advocate.
- While the Activity Booklet highlights Amelia's story, the Biography gives a more in-depth telling of her life. The reader will learn how Amelia envisioned her future flying through the skies. It also reveals how the trajectory of her life led to flight and the missteps on the fateful day she disappeared. The Biography contains personal stories and quotes that reinforce Amelia's visionary spirit.
- Biography Workbook
- The Biography Workbook allows the reader to dive into the lessons Amelia Earhart's legacy teaches and apply them to their life. We took the same thought-provoking activities from the Activity Booklet and made them into a companion guide for the Biography. After completing the activities, girls will understand what visionary looks, sounds and feels like. More importantly, they will understand how to envision their future.
- Timeline Poster
- The Timeline Poster is a quick introduction to the life of Amelia Earhart. One look at it, and the reader can easily spot the milestones in her life, the events that led to her taking to the skies and her record-breaking career as a woman pilot. From birth to death, girls can trace Amelia's path and understand how her accomplishments changed the course of history.
- Play-It-Forward Cards
- Using the Play-It-Forward Cards allows your girls to generalize the lessons they have learned about Wilma Rudolph and perseverance. By following the directions on the cards, they will acknowledge those instances where they see Wilma's spirit in themselves and others in their community. The Play-It-Forward Cards encourage girls to support one another by encouraging and recognizing perseverance in others.
- The Accessory is a gift that reminds girls of Amelia soaring through the skies. Amelia's accessory is an aviator scarf, blending her love of flight with her sense of style. Not everyone realizes Amelia was among the first women’s clothing designers. It seems fitting that a noted piece of an aviator's wardrobe is the item representing one of the most remarkable women visionaries.
- The charm is a reminder of Amelia’s vision for her high- flying life. The G&G Charm is a wing and a disc that reads "Stand for Something." Just like Amelia stood for a future without constraints, the charm reminds girls to take a chance, rise above the monotony of stereotypes and let their imaginations soar. A great adventure awaits us all.