For those of us who are scared of making decisions that could change our lives or even cause us any inconvenience, Horseshoe Bend resident Marge Burge has a message -- take a chance.
At what? "Anything that intrigues or scares you, do it," Burge said Aug. 4 at her home in Horseshoe Bend.
Burge, 69, said she has spent her life taking chances and it has been worth it. Taking chances throughout her life has enabled Burge to travel to exotic places in Europe and Australia. It has also helped her achieve a high level of athletic prowess as a senior.
"I never played basketball in my life until was in my 50s. The first time I went to the National Senior Olympics in Buffalo, N.Y., my team won a bronze medal," said Burge.
Burge said risk taking is a voyage into self discovery. She said she first discovered herself on a trip to Monterrey, Mexico, after graduating from high school.
"I was shy and scared of everything. I was offered a scholarship to study Spanish in Mexico and I took it. It was the start of something special for me," said Burg.
A self-confessed introvert, Burge said she began to talk and socialize with the other students. "Everything I said was funny and people liked me if they got the chance to know who I really was," she said.
The next year Burge went from introvert to freshmen class president at Denton College in Denton, Texas. She majored in business and economics and graduated in three and a half years.
Burge said her travels have exposed her to cultures far different from her own. She said her favorite place to visit was Australia.
Australia stands out because the people are so different and the landscape is beautiful, she said.
The highlight of her trip was snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef. "I was a little scared, but it was awesome," she said. She also drove a rented car through the Blue Mountains and travelled to the bottom of the ocean in a submarine.
The low point of her trip was a visit to a Sidney museum. Inside, she saw an authentic World War II Japanese midget submarine used in the attack at Pearl Harbor. Burge said she stood there looking at the submarine and the horror of war engulfed her.
"Why do we think killing human beings is going to solve any of our problems? We've been doing it for thousands of years and it has solved nothing," she said.
A fervent Democrat, Burge said she believes that all people are entitled to equal rights and privileges. She said violence against women and children has to be curtailed. One way she said to achieve this goal is gun control.
In 2002 she marched in the Women's Gun Control march in Washington, D.C.
Aside from her voyages of self-discovery and her political activism, Burge said she relishes new challenges. In recent years she has been an avid bicyclist. She said last year she traversed Missouri's 550-mile Katie bike trail -- alone.
Burge's two loves -- biking and travel -- have intertwined themselves on several occasions. Two years ago she participated with a group in a bicycle tour of Ireland. "We bicycled about 25 miles a day for two weeks. It was wonderful," said Burge. She said she has also been on a bicycling tour of England, as well.
The list of activities Burg has taken a part in throughout the years is mind boggling. She has been on hiking trips through Austria and Canada; she has snow skied at various Rocky Mountain resorts, including Winter Park resort in Colorado and Whistler Mountain in British Columbia; she and two friends rented a car in Belgium and spent two weeks traversing the countryside; she went deep-sea fishing near the island of St. Thomas; she spent five weeks in Alaska crisscrossing the state; and she lived in Paris for a year after she graduated from college. Burge said she has toured other European countries including the Netherlands, Italy, Germany, Switzerland and Scotland.Some of the chances Burge has taken haven't turned out how she planned. Before marrying her current husband, Ray, she was married twice before. "Those two were whoppers as far as mistakes go," Burge said with a laugh.
She said the only good thing to come out of her first marriage was her two children -- Jim, 44, and Debra, 42.
She has five grandchildren and one great grandchild. While married to her second husband, Burge opened a frame shop in Memphis. It grew and eventually she opened an art gallery in the same building. She bought the frame shop and gallery from her ex-husband after they divorced.
"Owning my own frame shop and art gallery was a lot of work, but I enjoyed it," said Burge.
In 1985 Burge and Ray were married and they decided to move to Horseshoe Bend. Burge was a volunteer with the Horseshoe Bend EMT service and is a member of several clubs and other organizations.
Burge has a busy fall planned. In September she will compete in the National Senior Olympics. Her events will include basketball, javelin, discuss and the running long jump. "I've won lots of medals at the state level, but I want to win another medal at the national meet before I die," she said.
Burge has a cross-country Amtrak train trip planned in October. She also plans to ride her bike (it's named Norman after a friend who passed away) on a trail in Mississippi.
Burge said she plans on staying active until the end of her life.
"I've had an awesome life. I wouldn't trade it for anything," she said.