Trista Sutter opens her heart in Happily Ever After

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Was it really dozen years ago that Trista Sutter, a pediatric physical therapist moonlighting as a Miami Heat dancer, had her heart broken on the first season of The Bachelor and then became the very first Bachelorette, falling for poetry-writing firefighter Vail Ryan Sutter and getting married on national TV? For those who changed reality TV channels after that, Trista and Ryan are still married, still live in Vail and have two kids, ages four and six. And Sutter, a self-described work-at-home-mom, has a new book, Happily Ever After: The Life-Changing Power of a Grateful Heart. But as that book reveals, her fairy-tale story has had a few dark chapters. See also: Best appearance by a Coloradan on National TV 2003 -- Ryan Sutter, The Bachelorette At a signing at Swoozie's yesterday (the Sixth Avenue store stocks items from her Grateful Heart Collection, and is also selling her book), Trista shared one of those dark chapters, which had an illuminating ending.

Her mother, born in 1946, the second oldest of four sisters raised in a strict Catholic home, was a victim of "date rape" as a senior at Purdue -- long before either society or law enforcement considered that a crime.

Her mother gave the baby, named Teresa Marie, up for adoption, but tried to find her through the years even after she married and started a family. After her mother confided in Trista when she was twelve, Trista, too, tried to find her half-sister. But on the day when Teresa Marie would have turned forty, her mother finally gave up hope.

Then a year-and-a-half later, she got a call from a woman named Kathy, "an ordinary call turned into one that couldn't have been more extraordinary." She'd been born on December 20, 1968 -- the day Teresa Marie was born.

A couple of days later, Teresa Marie-turned-Kathy met her birth mother, and she was welcomed to the family. "My mom is now bonded to a daughter she thought she would never meet," Trista writes, "and in the process has taught so much to all of us who know her story (myself included). With her help, I learned to keep moving forward in the face of life's hardships, to know that things happen as they are supposed to, and to be grateful for the bumpy road that leads to happy hearts."

Each chapter of the book -- including the one that has this tough story -- ends with suggested "happily ever actions" suggestions from Trista.

Find out more about about the book and what Trista Sutter's been up to over the past decade here.

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