Slide background

Cobalt Blue: A Novel

A novel for courageous readers and seekers, COBALT BLUE is a turbulent, gorgeous ride into sacred sex..

Order Now

Emails to my Therapist

Seeking A New Pursuit: Must Be Captivating, Enchanting, Intriguing

Dear Nicholas,  With so many of my loved ones scattering in every direction and doing new things, I feel a strong need to do something new myself. I’m seeking a new pursuit, a new interest or activity that I’ll feel passionate about. It needs to be fun, not a laborious self-improvement. Not something I “should” do, but not something destructive either.

I’m happy doing my same work and I’m happy with Bob. I’m happy where we have lived these 39 years.  When I reread that, I think: and you want something else? How utterly greedy and piggish!

No doubt I should throw myself into volunteering and saving the world.

But these thoughts are not persuasive just now.

Instead I want to be fascinated by a new pursuit so appealing that it will distract me from the fact that, for example, my brother Harry and his family have just moved two hours and 40 minutes away from me to the beach.  For some reason, they think that’s better than living in Raleigh only 40 minutes away from me. Hard to understand. (Picture ruefully smiling emoji.)

Positively Enthralling

Also, I wouldn’t mind some positive counter to the weight of loved ones having headed in far more distressing directions.

I’m not even going to try to save the world just now. I’m thinking more along the lines of surfing or becoming lead singer in a garage band. Peggy and the Four Nephews has a nice ring to it. Something that surprising, something that much fun.

I did experiment with surfing and it didn’t work out well. The waves went too fast.  I never advanced beyond a crouched position on the board and that only lasted for seconds before I tipped over.

As for singing– well, as I’ve mentioned before, I took a course some years ago called “Singing for Non-Singers.” It helped a lot. Bob said my singing went from “unpleasant to pleasant.” Note my 35 sec vocal debut below, the song I’ve been singing obsessively of late:

Bob’s very pleasant voice was welcomed into both the Duke Chapel Choir and the Harvard Glee Club and he has high standards. So I actually felt his assessment was a nice compliment. He thinks I could now be allowed into a church choir.

Perhaps Not as a Soloist?

Right now, singing is a possibility I find I’m trying out: when I’m driving or puttering, even (sotto voce) when I’m grocery shopping. To do anything more than this, though, I’d need a higher range. I can’t comfortably get past F above middle C. That rules out singing along with ABBA and Queen and The Mamas and Papas and so many other boomer-appropriate groups. (I seem to have roughly the same range as Neil Diamond.)

I googled how to hit higher notes and found that it’s physically somewhat possible. I have my doubts, though. At the very thought of G above middle C, I imagine listeners’ increasingly pained expressions, their shoulders defensively rising.

“Taking Piano?”

Maybe it won’t be singing. Maybe I’ll take up the ukulele. In fifth grade, I learned to play “Tom Dooley.” Much earlier, I learned to play with two fingers on the piano  a part of one song. On the strength of that, I volunteered at Sunday school to play for a game of Musical Chairs. This was my big chance to perform since you don’t play all the way to end of a song for this game, instead stopping abruptly partway through. Perfect! But my offer was overlooked in favor of a child who had “taken piano.”

When I talked with you recently, Nicholas, about this quest of a new pursuit, you suggested I’d simply find myself engaged in it, recognize it as the new thing after I’d already begun doing it.  It’s true that I’ve been going around singing lately. Mostly the same song over and over: “Sandy White Beach of Hawaii.” There may be a clue in that choice of music.  But the new thing needs to be something I can do regularly, ideally without hours of driving. A trip to Hawaii, which would be very nice indeed, is not the answer.

What else might seize me? Fabric, delicious colors, interest me. I could learn to sew? Design clothes? I did make a dress a few years ago, sewing by hand. I even wore it, though it bore little resemblance to the pattern.

What else? Chocolate pops into my head. And ice cream. Get a part-time job at Dairy Queen. Start a side hustle selling fudge using my Uncle Luther’s terrific recipe? I still work full-time, so time has to be considered.

The Stage!

What else? Public speaking pops up next. I’ve already done a lot of that. Do I want to be on one of those storytelling shows? Probably not. But I won’t rule it out.  Or local theater? Will keep it on the list. I was, after all, Anne Frank’s older sister in high school.

Next idea; playing bench for a softball team. Or pickle ball!

Tap dancing has merit. Also a fifth grade enthusiasm. Maybe I can come up with something I didn’t already do in elementary school.

Brainstorming On…

Well, I’m just thinking it over. I want to keep my mind open. It wouldn’t offend me if the new thing were to accomplish something useful in the world. But I want to find it fun, even if it’s a good thing.

Do let me know if your church choir could use an unassuming alto, someone who can sing along with Neil Diamond.














Follow This Blog


Categories: Uncategorized

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  • Linda Holland
    October 22, 2021 at 8:24 pm Reply

    Hi Peggy! Just a note to say I enjoy your letters to Nicholas. Keep them coming.

    • Peggy Payne
      October 22, 2021 at 8:27 pm Reply

      Thank you, Linda! Good to “see” you here. I hope things are all going well for you. I will definitely keep these letters coming. It’s probably a lifelong project.

  • October 23, 2021 at 12:25 am Reply

    You do have a very expressive face, Peggy. Your singing brought me to sentimental tears. You do so many different things now, and so very well. I wonder what new fun, engaging thing you’ll find yourself doing and take up. bob

    • Peggy Payne
      October 23, 2021 at 12:29 am Reply

      Your reaction makes me feel that the time I spent on this was worthwhile. And I did have some doubts about that. Thank you, Bob!

      • October 23, 2021 at 2:35 am Reply

        my pleasure darlin’, b

        • Peggy Payne
          October 23, 2021 at 2:37 am Reply

          heart emoji

  • kenju
    October 23, 2021 at 2:01 am Reply

    I need a new hobby too.

    I enjoy your letters to Nicholas also. But I have no advice for you this time. I need to sort out my own life before making suggestions for others. I hope you come up with a new skill to master, and soon.

    • Peggy Payne
      October 23, 2021 at 2:15 am Reply

      Thanks, kenju. I hope you find something captivating, intriguing….

  • alcooke
    October 23, 2021 at 9:46 am Reply

    Dear Peggy,
    As someone of a similar age and background, I can’t help but feel there is a degree of “should” in this quest, your denial, notwithstanding. I won’t, however, ( note use of however within the dependentclause rather than at the beginning as Mrs . Modlin taught me) besurprised to find that you have started writing lyrics for the next iteration of ABBA or doing background vocals for the next Neil Diamond. Carry on with your inner CSN.

    • Peggy Payne
      October 23, 2021 at 2:19 pm Reply

      Thanks for this vote of confidence, Al. The save-the-world should is always there and so far never wins out. Background vocals wearing something glittery sounds really good to me. And, wow, you’re up early. I was still in the middle of my Friday night’s sleep when you posted.

      • Alcooke
        October 23, 2021 at 7:19 pm Reply

        I agree on the save the worl issues. And I seldom sleep past 5:00. I’ve always been an early riser.

        • alcooke
          October 23, 2021 at 7:20 pm Reply

          You could arrange to be 30 feet from stardom in your glittery outfits.

          • Peggy Payne
            October 23, 2021 at 9:44 pm Reply

            That sounds good to me–about as close as I want to get.

        • Peggy Payne
          October 23, 2021 at 9:44 pm Reply

          We night owls are always in awe of you.

          • Peggy Payne
            October 23, 2021 at 9:45 pm Reply

            And I recently had the late night adventure of hearing coyotes howling close to our house. Wonderfully feral!

  • Cynthia Sjodin
    October 23, 2021 at 2:34 pm Reply

    I suggest horseback riding as your next pursuit. The barns I go to are usually full of women of all ages, visiting their ponies or waiting for lessons. Good for mind, body, & soul. ❤️

    • Peggy Payne
      October 23, 2021 at 6:52 pm Reply

      Now that’s a new one in my life and very interesting, Cynthia. Will consider. My horizons are widening!

  • Lee Grohse
    October 23, 2021 at 4:55 pm Reply

    You have a dog or two in your yard, don’t you? Join all of us who have given up on activities requiring talent or social skills and train that beast for a dog sport! Dock diving, Fly ball, lure coursing, agility, Rally, Barn Hunt.. the opportunities are nearly endless. You don’t need expensive equipment and you and your dog compete against your own previous performance not the others. You spend time outdoors. I am presently spending my weekend with two of my dogs hunting rats in canisters hidden in fake barns. It isn’t saving the earth, but then nobody will ever ask you to perform this at a party.

    • Peggy Payne
      October 23, 2021 at 6:50 pm Reply

      Really interesting idea, Lee. And I do like the outdoor-ness. I know a woman who has a cadaver dog and no one ever asks for any party tricks from her.

  • Chuck
    November 4, 2021 at 7:36 am Reply

    Your blog was a fun read.
    As you already know Life just is …
    and a good hobby or two definitely helps keep life fun.

    Only you can truly decide what your passion is so I won’t try to provide specific hobby suggestions- I’ll just remind you what you already know:

    1) Clearly define your goal –
    why do I really want a hobby ?

    2) Clarify what you want in a hobby
    solo or group ?
    Audience or none ?
    Competitive or not ?
    Building something permanent or just enjoying the time ?
    Easy or extreme learning curve ?

    Requirements ? Age, health, money, location, energy level, length of time, focus, other people, etc

    3) Be appropriately selfish – it’s your time so use it as you wish

    4) Read, research and visualize – and then try on a few different hats and see what ya like most

    Final thought- my opinion is a hobby should be fun (whatever your definition is) and if it’s not fun then it’s kinda like ‘work’ so you decide what’s best in life.

    • Peggy Payne
      November 5, 2021 at 12:40 am Reply

      Well done analysis, Chuck. Thanks! And I entirely agree that it has to be fun. I’m not looking for a new “discipline.”

  • Ron Perkinson
    November 5, 2021 at 6:46 pm Reply

    Peggy, your search for a new hobby is more complex than might be thought. For health reasons, I have been fully and totally retired for about 3 years. What is my hobby? Never gave it any thought. I have never labeled any activity with that name. There are things I just don’t want to do, and I don’t. There are things I enjoy doing, and I do them-this time, for some time. If I don’t want to next time ,I don’t. I considered stand-up comedy, but that is a craft in my view. I sense you think a hobby is an effort, and an obligation. Not if you don’t want it to be. Sometimes I have a hobby for a day- or for so long as I like it.

    • Peggy Payne
      November 5, 2021 at 9:05 pm Reply

      I like your when- you-feel-like-it approach, Ron. I’m not looking for a new duty or obligation, but instead a passionate additional calling that is large. A big positive change. BTW, I thik you’re good at stand-up.

  • […] SINGING: After I wrote last time about seeking a new passionate interest and daringly posted a video of me singing, I got quite a lot of advice coming in, including: […]

Leave a Comment


Follow This Blog