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literary journal. on the left, the cover of the literary journal. on the right, several authors join in a champagne toast as they sit at a table with a red tablecloth.

Live Vibrantly - September 28, 2023

Creativity and Connection: A Literary Journal at The View Alexandria

By Amanda Ranowsky

Editor’s note: All excerpts from the TVA Literary Journal shared in this article are under copyright and shared in this publication with the permission of the authors.

Many creative people share a similar dream: having their work published for others to see and enjoy. Recently, that dream came true for ten residents of The View Alexandria by Goodwin Living (TVA).

Earlier this month, this small group of residents launched the first edition of a 55-page literary journal consisting of 26 short stories, poems and memoirs. Surrounded by stacks of copies, the resident authors proudly gave readings from their work and insights into their creative processes. Closing the event with a champagne toast, TVA Chaplain and Director of Life Enrichment Kathy Howell offered a blessing for their creative endeavor.

This special day came about through months of work, collaboration and creativity. It all started with an idea from resident Kelly Pavela, whose literary work also appears in the publication.

Kelly Pavela: Creating an Opportunity for Connection

Kelly Pavela moved to TVA in December 2022. It wasn’t the easiest of transitions. “When I first came, it was really challenging for me to get acclimated to the community,” she shared.

Kelly looked at the many groups and activities TVA supports for residents to socialize, learn and express their creativity. “I wanted an outlet for my creativity that TVA wasn’t offering at the time,” she said. “They had a poetry appreciation group, which is cool. I appreciate my poetry, but I prefer writing my own poetry to appreciating somebody else’s.”

Though she hadn’t done creative writing before, she saw an opportunity to try something new and meet fellow residents along the way. She decided to start a group for writers to share their works with one another and, ultimately, publish their work in a literary journal. And just like that, Kelly found her purpose at TVA.

“This provided an outlet for me to become more involved in the community,” she said. “Once I found something that I thoroughly enjoyed, I was able to meet other residents. Even though there’s only five or six of us in the group, I wasn’t so shy anymore.”

With the support of TVA Director of Life Enrichment Kathy Howell, Executive Director Josh Bagley and her fellow writing group members, Kelly began the process of collecting submissions from any TVA resident to create their own literary journal.

A Love Between a Mother and Daughter

I held you in my arms for the very first time —

you were perfect.

Your teeny, tiny toesies

Up your little foot, leg, and torso.

When I reached your hands, you stopped me and put those delicate, little baby fingers around my thumb

Holding tight, eyes closed, and with a beautiful, contented smile –

You held my thumb tight – welcoming me into your life.

As you got older, you held my hand, inviting me to keep you safe.

Eventually, you gave me your heart, trusting me to guide you into ‘adulting.’

Today, you give me your thumb, your hand, and your heart –

helping me become the woman I am today.

I am grateful to you, my dear daughter.

John Alford: A New Hobby in Retirement

John Alford moved to The View Alexandria six years ago. After becoming a widower, John had been living near his daughter in Portland, Oregon. When she accepted a job offer in McLean, Virginia, he followed her to Northern Virginia.

The new writing group is the latest activity John added to his social calendar. “I keep busy!” he said.

The TVA literary journal is not John’s first foray into self-publishing. “Many years ago, when I was living in Portland, I was with a writers group,” he shared. “We were going to each submit something and publish, but everyone else dropped out. I decided to publish on my own. I collected some of my fiction and nonfiction stories and took them to a local print shop.”

John took up writing after a full and varied career that included service in the U.S. Navy and federal government. “I fully retired and said, ok what am I going to do? I’m not going to just sit around and do nothing,” he said. “I always wanted to write. So, I had a computer and I sat down, and I started.”

Excerpt from “Where I Would Rather Be”

Sunrise will soon nudge the waning stars into obscurity. I slowly swing my legs over the edge of the bed and begin the morning routine.

While tapping my feet lightly on the floor to awaken the tired blood moving slowly in my legs, I contemplate what today will offer to keep me active and occupied before once again slipping into bed for another night’s sleep.

But –

I would rather be holding you in my arms – again.

Lately it seems that memories keep easing their way into my everyday existence. Often a most innocent comment or gesture would initiate an unrelated event from long ago.

There was that once-in-a-life-time trip to Poland to learn about her heritage. To learn more about her parents’ experiences during the fateful years before the first of September in 1939.  Listening to the rousing sounds of the Polonaise played by the young Chopin devotee stirred our inner thoughts of Poland’s tumultuous history.

We stood on the veranda, sipping champagne and thinking how fortunate we were. Being there was great.

But –

I would rather be holding you in my arms – again.

Jim Hobson: Calling All Writers

Another member of the new writing group to have their work published in the journal is Jim Hobson. He moved to TVA shortly before Kelly Pavela and has been involved in the writing group since its inception.

Jim’s interest in writing spans most of his life. “Before I became a lawyer, I was a journalist,” he said. “I majored in English in college, so there are lots of threads that come together in my interest in writing.”

With the publication and release of the TVA Literary Journal, Jim hopes to see attendance at the writing group’s meetings grow. “A lot of the force for the writing group in recent months has been the upcoming publication,” he said. “We’re trying to see if we can get people together not just for the purpose of publication but for sharing their writing and to both appreciate and participate in the actual writing of poetry or prose or fiction.”

Blood Moon Eclipsed

Perhaps because it was Election Day

I was looking for omens before dawn

In the southwestern sky as the moon

Yielded its sunshine to the earth

Sliding between.  “Eppur si muove:”

Galileo was right.  We are not still here.


Earth ‘s shadow seeps, the moon’s last quarter

Begins to turn from yellow to blood orange

And in the darkened sky stars adorn

The shorn limbs of backyard trees –

Romeo’s cutouts, as Juliet foretold –

And I, too, fall in love with night.


Before dipping beneath the trees,

The moon leaves an aura of blood orange,

To remind that it will reflect the sun again

In the opposing morning sky, where we attend

To business not determined in our stars

But as we choose.  We are not still here.

Harold Kennedy: From a Career in Journalism to Recording Family History

Like Jim, Harold Kennedy spent much of his life writing. “I’m a journalist by background,” he shared. “I got my first by-line in 1965.”

Harold was one of the residents outside the writers group who submitted a piece for the journal. “Kelly sometimes joins my table for dinner,” he shared. “We talked about the fact that there was going to be a journal, and that’s what prompted my interest.”

“I’ve been staying pretty busy writing my family history,” he continued. “My submission was a little feature I originally wrote for my family, just to remind them of where they come from. When they decided to create the journal, I thought it was just about the right size for submission, so I followed up with Kelly and turned it in.”

Excerpt from “A  Shepherd’s Song”

Along the lakeshores are arrayed many historical architectural treasures, including a restored 14th century castle, a Victorian mansion, and the ruins of a medieval cathedral and abbey.

We were anxious to spend the day there. But rather than traveling the busy highway, we decided to take back roads, as much as possible. That, we thought, would be much more relaxing and entertaining. Luckily, Margaret had been to Ireland before me, and knew some of those roads.

“Turn here,” she soon instructed me. And like a good husband, I obeyed. And we entered a narrow one-lane thoroughfare. It was so narrow that, when we met oncoming traffic–and we did–either we or the other vehicle had to pull over to let the other pass. But as small as it was, it was paved, after a fashion.

The road passed through a pastoral valley surrounded by barren mountains on two sides. To the east was the Slieve Mish range. To the north was Cathair Con Ri, topped by ruins of an Iron Age promontory fort, where legend has it that two mythical Gaelic superheroes, Cuchulain and Cu Raoi mac Daire, once fought to the death over a captive woman. It was only one of many pre-Christian and early Christian sites in the area, which was very scenic. Our rearview mirror offered a sweeping view of Tralee Bay. The sky threatened rain.

Lloyd Moss: Stories from a Distinguished Foreign Service Career

Lloyd Moss joined the other nine residents who answered the call for submissions. Though Lloyd did not participate in the writing group, he avidly read what the group shared. “I read some of the other articles in the journal with great interest,” he said. “Particularly those of my former next-door neighbor, the late, great Marvin Ribyat.” Mr. Ribyat passed away shortly before the launch of the literary journal.

Lloyd’s long career in the State Department inspired his contribution to the journal. “Writing these stories brought back a lot of good memories,” he said. “I was very fortunate. I always served in places that I wanted to serve, and I met wonderful people.”

Writing down his stories is a relatively new hobby for Lloyd. “Most of the writing I’ve been doing over the last few decades has been cables,” he said. “I wasn’t looking to publish anything, but I hope what I’ve contributed is of some interest or entertainment to someone.”

Excerpt from “Ramshackle Reflections of a Diplomatic Wrong-way Corrigan”

Belize (2003-06)

Sub Umbra Floreo — “Beneath the Trees We Flourish” (my preferred translation: “We Have It Made in the Shade”), emblazoned on the national seal and colorful flag, aptly describes this beautiful gem of a nation.  Belize has it all: lush tropical rainforests, Mayan ruins, spectacular diving/snorkeling/fishing, and warm, friendly people — all of which I enjoyed immensely while serving as Deputy Chief of Mission.

That is until, once again, I became Chargé d’ Affaires a.i., and the inevitable calamity ensued — this time in the form of an investment dispute leading to a nationwide telecommunication black-out: for about a week, no cell phones, internet, telephone, radio, television, or ATMs.  The country’s only link with the outside world was the satellite system on the roof of the Embassy; we asked U.S. citizen tourists to limit their calls to a few minutes.  Bereft of all telecoms connectivity, people seemed adrift, walking about in a daze. The Economist even included a short article describing the bizarre atmosphere.  The ironic adage holds true: invention is the mother of necessity (not the other way round).

Hopes for Future Editions

The writers group plans to publish future editions of the literary journal, with a hopeful goal to publish two times per year, and interest in the next edition is already building. “I’ve actually come across residents now who didn’t publish the first time around who have asked me when the next publication deadline was,” Kelly said.

She has ambitions for extending the journal’s reach as well. “I’m hoping to open it up to residents, their families and TVA team members,” she said. “And I’m hoping to get some artwork in there as well.”

What began as one person’s search for an outlet to express creativity and make connections has become an effort that is bringing residents together in special ways. We look forward to seeing the talent and experiences that will be shared in the editions to come.


As Marketing & Communications Specialist, Amanda Ranowsky partners with colleagues throughout Goodwin Living to tell our stories and raise brand awareness. From printed collateral to digital marketing, Amanda covers many bases. Before joining Goodwin Living, Amanda worked for a small, family-owned business where she gained experience in content marketing. Amanda’s creative expression extends beyond the office. She is an active member of community theater and chorus groups.


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