After becoming the first Bachelorette on the hit ABC reality show, Trista Sutter found true love and wedded husband Ryan in a televised special watched by millions. 11 years later, the Sutters have two children and plenty to be thankful for. That’s what inspired Trista to write her first book, Happily Ever After: The Life-Changing Power of a Grateful Heart, in which she chronicles her personal journey and how practicing gratitude has helped her navigate the highs and lows of life in the public eye. I spoke to Trista recently about her experiences writing the book and the personal philosophy behind it:
Beeb Ashcroft: What inspired you to write “Happily Ever After”?
Trista Sutter: I wanted to write something that I could be proud of – that would be authentic to who I am. Something I could leave as a legacy for my children. Something that would hold me accountable to being a better person living a happier life.
I didn’t originally set out to be the author of an adult book that would live on the inspirational and auto-biographical shelves of book stores, but started on my literary path hoping to write a children’s book. I still hope to do that…someday!!
Beeb Ashcroft: This is your first book – what was the writing process like? Did anything surprise you along the way?
Trista Sutter: It was difficult. Time-consuming, emotional, and stressful, yet more than the negative things, it was cathartic and allowed me to connect to people through their stories.
I’ve come to realize that I am a writer that needs almost complete silence and with 2 young children and a husband who likes to watch Sportscenter whenever possible, I ended up disappearing to my neighbor’s house or local bookstore on many occasions. Thankfully, I had incredible help from Ryan, my family, and my close friends, who were able to take on my mommy responsibilities when I needed to buckle down and write.
I think just the fact that I can now call myself an author surprised me the most. I haven’t necessarily ever dreamt of becoming an author, but I am now proud to say that I am one.
Beeb Ashcroft: “Happily Ever After” talks a lot about navigating the stresses of day-to-day responsibilities. How has your “Attitude of gratitude” enriched your daily life?
Trista Sutter: Yes, it does. 🙂 I think that gratitude…as anyone else who has truly done so as well can attest to…helps get me through a lot. Especially the daily struggles that come with the frustrations of being a mom and wife and caregiver and chef and chauffeur and nurse and teacher and assistant and travel agent and tech support and psychologist and friend and the list goes on. When I am fully embracing a grateful heart, I see those roles as being blessings more than burdens and am able to be a more positive role model for my kids. But, I have to say that I am definitely not perfect. I vent and lose my patience, but if I consciously look toward being thankful, I get back on track quicker and get over my silly frustrations with much more ease.
Beeb Ashcroft: As a mother, what advice do you have for other moms who are feeling exhausted and unappreciated in their roles?
Trista Sutter: Ask for help. Take advantage of the precious time you have to yourself and indulge in the things that put a smile on your face…within reason of course. You have to fill your bank to be able to have the energy to give your best to the little ones who count on you. So, schedule me time when you need it and make sure to get enough sleep! It’s amazing what a good night’s sleep can do!
Beeb Ashcroft: You quote everyone from Carl Jung to Rev. Run in this book, so it seems like you find inspiration in a myriad of places. What person do you look up to the most?
Trista Sutter: I do! I would say that I look up to my husband the most. He is the most genuine, generous, caring, funny, brave, and kind person I know.
Beeb Ashcroft: After just celebrating Thanksgiving, we’re in the midst of a season that reminds Americans to count their blessings; but there’s often huge stress that comes with the holidays, as well. What are your strategies for focusing on gratitude and not succumbing to pressure during the holiday season?
Trista Sutter: Take deep breaths and disappear for a few minutes if necessary (of course making sure that your kids are in good hands). Try to keep things organized because once they aren’t for me, that’s when stress kicks in. Don’t allow the pressure of perfectionism to take hold. Do your best and know that it’s really the experience and connections you make that matter most. Write things down if they are frustrating you. I have a great journal in my Grateful Heart Collection with Glory Haus that is the perfect spot to get a little inspiration from the quotes I have on each page, while being able to vent and release once you close the page.
Beeb Ashcroft: And finally, what are you most thankful for this year?
Trista Sutter: Without a doubt, my family.
Happily Ever After: The Life-Changing Power of a Grateful Heart will be available in paperback on December 30th, 2014, with an accompanying Grateful Heart Gift Collection available on GloryHaus.