Article from Today's Chiropractic Lifestyle, December 2008/January 2009 Issue.


"Things to Do Before You Die No. 7: Experience Parasailing" by Amy Selby

Siegel parasailingHow does someone with a strong fear of heights end up parasailing over the pacific blue waters of Hawaii? The best answer for Betty Siegel, Ph. D., is through a series of convenient circumstances. Siegel is well known amongst higher education circles for her leadership at Kennesaw State University (KSU) and for her trademark large, red glasses. Throughout her career, Siegel has achieved a long list of accolades--she is the first woman to head an institution within the 35-unit University System of Georgia. She is the longest-serving female president of a public university in the nation. Today, Siegel is the distinguished chair of the Siegel Institute for Leadership, Ethics & Character and President Emeritus at KSU. She is also a Board of Trustees member at Life University. Her work has taken her all over the world, including South Africa, where she has developed leadership development programs for Stellenbosch University.
In the interview featured below, Siegel shares how a speaking engagement in Oahu, Hawaii included one of the most exhilarating experiences of her life.

Please explain how you ended up parasailing when you have a fear of heights?
I was invited to speak in Hawaii six or seven years ago. I had my husband and son, Michael, with me for the trip. When I go on trips like these I focus on preparing my speech, and I forget to make life interesting for my husband and son. They wanted to sightsee, but I was too busy. Once I finished my speech I felt very affirmed and I thought to myself, “Hey, now, I’m free.” My son asked how we were going to spend the day and I told him that I’d love to go shopping. But, my son was not going shopping. He had other plans. “I’m going parasailing,” he said.

How did you react to that news?
I told him, “No, honey, that’s too dangerous.” But he told me he had already signed up and was indeed going parasailing.

With that warning, how did you later find yourself tethered to a parachute and a boat?
The next morning I got up to see my son off [as he caught a shuttle to the marina]. I stood at the entrance to the hotel wearing new shoes, a new suit, big glasses and big hair—the whole bit. I was still planning to go shopping. When the van arrived for my son, the driver said that two passengers couldn’t go and asked if I’d like to drive down to the marina with my son. I thought, sure, there are great shops over there. So, I ride down with him to the boat. The captain told me that two people dropped out and I could ride in the boat for free. So, I went aboard the boat. We went out into the ocean and the water was choppy. Everyone else went parasailing by themselves. The guide got up from the front of the boat and approached my son. He told Michael that he had to go parasailing with someone.

Michael looked over at me and said, “Mom, go with me.”
“What?” I said.
“Come on,” he went on.
And, I did.

We went straight up into the air. And I was in my new blue suit, with big sunglasses and big hair.

Siegel motorcyclingWhat does this experience mean to you?
It was the thrill of my life. I had Michael behind me, and all through the trip he would whisper in my ear, “Mom, look at the waves crashing on the breakers,” or “Look! There’s Waikiki.”
It was absolutely wonderful. Everyone else had landed in the water, but we landed on the boat. I didn’t get a speck of water on that suit.

Did parasailing have any other effect on your life?
After parasailing, I decided to do a number of things. My husband and I took motorcycle lessons. We are certified motorcyclists. I got the license, but I won’t get on a motorcycle again. I also cooked at the Waffle House.

I’m good for one adventure, but I don’t repeat them.

Is there a chance for another parasailing adventure in your life?
During the ride I was OK, I had Michael with me. Would I ever do this again? Not on your life.