Sometimes the behind the scenes story to a new book is just as fascinating as the book itself. Take Christine DerOhannesian (Der-O-Hanna-Shian), divorced, mother of two, with an entrepreneur’s mind, and a book ready to launch.
If you read through her bio, she’s literally been through the ringer. She’s seen enough bad days to permit her a few pity parties. That’s nowhere near what she’s looking for, but rather to spread a message about resilience, and the notion that what doesn’t kill you, makes you, indeed, stronger than you could ever imagine.
Christine, 42, is one of those remarkable stories that reminds us that the experiences we have do not define us, nor can hold us down, or keep us prisoner. Rather, every time she got knocked down, she got back up and walked away with a new lesson learned. It’s quite a story.
Take her twelfth year, and recently transplanted to urban Los Angeles from a sleepy upstate New York town. As the new kid in the neighborhood, she was jumped and beaten by a girl gang. Christine suffered cuts, bruises, and a big dent to what was already an adolescent’s confused self-esteem. To some, it may have affected her for life for good, creating an unshakable chip on the shoulder.
Rather, she was toughened up a bit, and took from this experience that some folks are just going to be who they are, and her belief in the goodness in people never wavered.
At 18 and back in New York, she was involved in a catastrophic car accident which broke her neck and cracked her skull. Helicoptered to a trauma center, she endured a lengthy healing period and rehabilitation. And with that, another life lesson: that life is short and can be cut out in an instant, and that every day is a gift.
Entering adulthood, she chose a career in retail, and advanced to the position of director of visual merchandising for a retail company. There, she prepared product strategies and visual direction, remodeled stores and designed and ran trade shows across the country. Fast forward to 2014, now divorced with two young children, in Orange County, New York. Christine began the next chapter and rented a work space where she could channel her life affirmations, creative talents, and entrepreneurial spirit. From that, came Bumblefly, a community center where like-minded professionals could network and inspire each other. The name, she explains, comes from the way she approaches life: that we can remain like the free-spirited butterfly, but also stick to our goals and see them through like the diligent bumblebee.
It was at a writing workshop held at Bumblefly that Christine got the inspiration she was looking for. The workshop focused on the idea that everyone has a story in them, and everyone has a writing ability. She remembered the story that had been ruminating in her mind, and her initial belief that “she wasn’t a writer,” turned into, “I am a writer.” She created the Christmas storybook for children, Santa’s Magical Chimney.
“It’s based on my life,” Christine explains, “when my kids and I moved from a big farmhouse with fireplace to a small apartment with electric heat.” Christmas was approaching and her young children wondered how Santa could get in without a chimney. “It was such a sweet innocent question, and I feel that the story wrote itself. I just got the idea to create this book about a magical chimney that came with a wall-size poster of a beautiful and realistic looking brick fireplace that families could put up in their home every year,” she says. Brilliant!
It took Christine a year to complete the book, find an illustrator, research ways to print it and keep within budget. That she’s holding it in her hands, and starting her publicity tour is a testament to her ambition and determination, two skills she honed throughout her life, from the streets of Los Angeles, to the hospital hallways. These lessons are ones that she hopes her two biggest fans embrace as well. Rosalia and Marcello were the inspiration behind the book and have taken a starring role in the book itself. Proud of their mom, they’ve given the book a hearty “thumbs up” and will help promote it when their school schedule permits.
Next on her agenda is a book series about her family, centered how families show love to one another. “Despite my trials and tribulations, I was always comforted and surrounded by strong, loving people,” she says. “With Bumblefly, and the upcoming projects, I want to keep projecting this message. I know I came through all that I did for a reason.”
“The Bumblefly community center is the umbrella company, if you will, for this book and the books, events, and projects to come,” she says. “It was founded on the belief that we really can inspire each other to be our best, to find the passion within us, and to use all the experiences life has given us in positive ways.”