Hope Writers

Hope*Writer Mastermind Series: Susan B. Arico

Writer & Coach for the Soul

Hello and Happy New Year! To start off 2021 in the right direction, I want to introduce you to my friend, Susan Arico from New England. Susan writes with a focus on our beautiful souls.

In her own words, I believe a soul is a beautiful thing to have, and a terrible thing to waste. Many of us are wasting our souls without realizing it by giving them away, a byte at a time, to our cell phones. Susan Arico

Isn’t that just beautiful? While also being an eye-opening statement.

I knew I struggled with letting my cell phone take over my life before I met Susan. I was aware of the problem but had no clear steps for how to take back my focus on the right things.

Susan’s website and blog ( are FULL of wonderful advice, tips, tricks, and soul-searching ideas to help you focus more on your soul and less on your cell (phone).

One of the wonderful things (out of many) about Susan is her gentle guidance and encouragement to conquer your cell phone use. Teaching you –

"your soul matters. less cell (phone), more soul." Susan Arico

She has a quiet, authority which is powerful and uplifting. I love to hear her talk about this subject. Her passion for our souls and well-being is clearly heard in her voice and resonates with my soul.

For 2021, I want to learn to let my soul rest and my phone to not dictate my comings and goings. Thanks to Susan’s passion, I have a way to do this.

Besides blogging where she supports your phone goals and soul growth, she also runs personal phone challenges to help you stay accountable and offers screen coaching to help you go deeper in your journey.

For this new year, she created a 21- day challenge to help you create a new relationship with your phone to help you make the most of 2021.

Susan puts heart and passion into everything she does. She not only writes about the soul, but also has a passion for ending slavery and sex trafficking, and just a love of kids in general.

She talks often about her family (husband and four kiddos) and you will hear the love for them in all of her writings. Definitely check out her blog posts about living in Greece for three years.

I hope you have enjoyed getting to know a little bit more about my friend, Susan. I truly feel her ministry is an important and impactful one. I hope you check out her website and learn more from my wise friend.

Until next time, may God’s grace surround you,

new beginnings

Please note photos for this blog post are from my friend’s website.

About Me

The Unexpected Blessing During Covid-19

I think everyone can agree 2020 has not gone the way anyone had planned. There is an ever-growing list of activities, traditions, events which have been canceled. Many of the ways we interact have been dramatically altered and distance from the people in our lives has become the norm.

It is easy to list all of the ways Covid-19 has messed up this year. It is a lot harder to say ways Covid-19 has been a blessing.

But there are always blessings in the midst of the bad. It’s a promise God gave us in Romans 8:28. I love the Message’s version of this verse:

That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.

In every difficult situation, every delay, every disappointment, GOD IS AT WORK.

My unexpected blessing was I got a sister during Covid-19.

That might seem strange to you because I’ve posted about my sister before. She’s been in my life since I was sixteen months old and Mom brought her home from the hospital.

Growing up, everyone who saw us together thought we were twins. We look very similar in our features and people easily pick up that we are sisters. Close in age, as the oldest girl, I hated having her so close in age. She was always copying me, wanting to follow me, and basically do everything I did.

Typical stuff for sisters.

We fought, a lot, and it wasn’t just yelling, it was hair pulling, punching, biting, and wrestling. Once when my Mom picked us up from Auntie’s house, she put her hands on her slim hips and told my mother, “Those two were trying to kill each other.”

Fighting is typical for sisters, too!

But what wasn’t typical is how we were raised. My father was not a nice man. I’ve written about him some in my devotional blog posts, but I haven’t always included the nitty-gritty and ugly details.

One of the worst things my father did was pit my sister and me against each other as soon as we could walk and talk. We literally had to fight for his love and attention. It was a one-sided, unfair battle that neither of us could win.

My father would tell me almost every day he loved my sister and did not love me at all. I wasn’t as pretty, smart, or as loveable as she was, while at the same time telling my sister that her own mother and sister didn’t love her, only he did.

Cruel, hurtful, and long-lasting scars.

It has taken many years of therapy and God’s healing grace for me to sort out what was lies from my father and what was just typical sibling stuff.

Elementary to college, it was hard to find ways to interact with my sister. We didn’t know how to get along and be friends, let alone sisters. There was anger, hurt, judgment, and HUGE AMOUNTS of misunderstanding on both sides.

Things have improved in the last few years. We’ve slowly learned how to be friends, but there was still something missing in our relationship. We weren’t sisters.

When Covid-19 struck and people were stuck in their homes for weeks on end, I was worried about what would happen being trapped in the house together. I was worried… But I shouldn’t have been.


Those weeks together weren’t bad. They weren’t even difficult. I got a sister during a Covid-19. We watched episodes of Murder, She Wrote, Matlock, and other mystery shows.

She helped me with my research for my new mystery novel and helped me figure out what poisons to use in the book. (Much to my mother’s horror because that research took place around Mother’s Day when we had long discussions about how to kill someone in unpleasant ways.)

We put together puzzles, watched cooking shows, talked, and laughed. We became the sisters I’d always wanted and that’s what my dad worked so hard to prevent.

Covid-19 has not been fun by any means. I’ve lost friends due to this deadly scourge. I have missed out on wonderful events in my friend’s lives as well as my own. I hate what it’s done to the world.


It is not easy to find the blessing in the heartache. I do not always find those blessings until long after the events happen. But sometimes, God gives us a gift during the hard times and we see a benefit in the middle of the mess.

Gaining a sister in the midst of Covid-19 is an unexpected blessing I will always remember as coming out of a difficult year. I know there will be more blessings in this difficult time. We might not see them until years later, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t there. GOD IS AT WORK!

Until next time, may God’s grace surround you,

new beginnings
Food Writer
Hope Writers

Hope*Writer Mastermind Series: Daytona Strong

Classy Baking Food Writer

For part two of my Introduction of The Talented Women of the Hope*Writers mastermind, I want you to meet Daytona Strong. Daytona is a journalist turned food writer and author of several GORGEOUS cookbooks. Specializing in Scandinavian baking steeped in a rich heritage from beloved grandmothers, she puts her love of family and community into every aspect of her life.

The first time I saw Daytona was in the lobby of our hotel for a mixer the first night together in our first March meeting face to face, she was in a lovely, classic dress and the smile on her sweet face would have lit up a small city.

To me, Dayton is a mixture of the best qualities of Donna Reed, Martha Stewart, and Jackie O all rolled into one sweet friend. Classic, motherly, and a wonderful cook, this vibrant woman can do anything she sets her mind to do. Being around her makes you feel you can do anything with a friend like her in your corner.

Her career started in journalism where she learned to “interview” life.

What do I mean?

To me, Daytona is a mixture of curiosity, honesty, and sincerity. When she asks you a question, it’s because she truly wants to know you better. She has a way of learning more about you all the while empowering you to look at life from a different perspective.

One of my first encounters with this sweet woman was when she introduced herself to the group and explained why she writes about Scandinavian baking. A touching story that had the entire group in tears.

While my family is very small, (really just my mother, sister, and I), because of Daytona’s kindness in sharing her story, I was reminded of the precious gift God gives us in families, no matter the size.

I’ve had the privilege in the last few months to have zoom meetings with her and one of her best friends. She pulled the three of us together knowing her friend and I would hit it off over a mutual love of mysteries and all things Jessica Fletcher. We call it Tea Time and spend an hour laughing, catching up, and supporting each other through prayer and community.

Daytona lives in Seattle, Washington but has strong ties to Norwegian roots by way of her dad born in Norway and her mother’s Norwegian heritage growing up in North Dakota.

She is an AVID reader, devouring books like the wonderful treats she bakes! Her love of the classics such as Jane Eyre, The Great Gatsby, and Les Misérables fits wonderfully with her classic character. She loves cats and is grateful YouTube has cat videos in abundance. Her tuxedo kitty named Ella is a recent addition, but already a loved member of the family.

She has a food blog, Outside Oslo, which is loaded with tons of great recipes. I’ve been delighted to see she has gluten-free recipes for me to try. Her Swedish Meatballs are on my list to try because the recipe is GLUTEN-FREE!

Gluten Free

Be sure to check out her Instagram and Facebook pages because the photos are stunning and will have you drooling on your screen.

I hope you enjoyed meeting, Daytona, a remarkable, talented woman I am blessed to call friend. 

Until next time, may God’s grace surround you,

new beginnings

Please note photos for this blog post are from my friend’s website and Instagram feed.