I’m two days into 2012 and I’m feeling downright positive. My thoughts dictate my actions and my happiness. I’ve been racking my brain to figure out the best way to give kids the gift of health. Healthy minds and healthy bodies. I’ve spoken often about the Papa Didos million mile relay. I’ve received lots of feedback and of course there are always the naysayers. There are plenty of people that see obstacles. Once again I see possibility. I do believe in planning but I also believe there is a time to act. It’s often said that we stand in the way of our own success. That, of course, is if we are afraid to take the steps. Plenty is unknown. I control nothing but my own thoughts and actions. This year I will continue stepping and heading towards my goal. I’m hoping to find a few more friends out there that will help this organization reach it’s million mile goal. The only way I will fail is if I quit!!
Ok. The following is the Papa Didos story and pictures for
In a tiny village, deep in a lush green forest, on the side of a mountain, Lizzy the beautiful ballerina ghost dances. This ghost is said to be seen on special occasions. Legend has it that she was a very famous ballerina. When she feels happy she appears dancing on the tops of trees, in the skies, and through the forest.
The legend of Lizzy began in the village when she was a real live young girl. She was raised by her grandmother, Diane, a beautiful and powerful sorceress. Everyone in the village knew of Lizzy’s grandmother and came to her with their problems. Lizzy witnessed her grandmother help many people. Lizzy wanted to be just like her.
Diane had a love of ballet and although she was older, she danced with the grace of youth. Watching her grandmother Diane dance, Lizzy’s own love of ballet was born. She learned to move and feel the emotions of music. The two shared many hours dancing together.
One day, while Lizzy and her grandmother were dancing, a visitor came seeking Diane’s help. Lizzy saw her grandmother fix a warm tea for the guest. Diane sat with her friend as said “Let’s talk it out. Drink the tea, and you’ll feel better afterwards, I promise”. After being with Diane for a talk and some tea the friend left smiling and happy. Lizzy asked her grandmother if she could learn magic.
Diane thought that was a wonderful idea. Diane went to a corner of the room where a dusty old trunk sat and palled out a pair of ballet slippers. They were a pair of magic ballet slippers. From these slippers all magic would follow. “How they work” asked Lizzy.
Diane answered, “Just listen to your feet. Then listen to the world.”
Lizzy’s feet told her to dance and dance she did. Her movements were so beautiful, villagers everywhere took notice. The word spread rapidly of Lizzy’s talent. Soon people travelled from faraway places just to watch Lizzy dance. Every part of Lizzy came to life as she danced. Her spirit soared, moving with the sounds of the music.
One day a man who had seen Lizzy dance approached Lizzy’s grandmother offering to take Lizzy to a big city to dance for many people. Diane thought about what the man said and told him she couldn’t make the decision for Lizzy. But, she promised the man she’d inform Lizzy of the offer.
So, the next morning when Lizzy and Diane were having their breakfast, Diane asked Lizzy how she felt about going to the city to dance in front of many people. Lizzy thought the idea sounded wonderful. She didn’t need much time to think. She only wanted to dance.
The minute Lizzy accepted the man’s offer, the ballet slippers began to perform their magic. Lizzy believed that the magic slippers helped transform her into a wonderful dancer. So, she took extra special care of them and wrapped them into a nice little box. The slippers traveled with them everywhere. On the night of Lizzy’s first performance not one empty seat could be found in the large auditorium. It the front of the stage, Diane sat in eager anticipation of her granddaughter appearance. The lights dimmed and the large velvet curtains opened. Slowly the music played until Lizzy walked out on stage.
She dazzled the audience with magnificent turns and jumps. On her feet were grandma’s magic slippers, and in the front grandma could be seen smiling widely. The people faded out of Lizzy’s view. It was just her and the music. She was tireless throughout the performance and when she finished, she took an elegant bow. The lights brightened and the crowd gave a roaring applause.
Lizzy loved being appreciated. It warmed her and drove her to work harder. The more she danced, the better she became. Fortune and fame quickly found their way into her life. Lizzy traveled the world over. She met many, many people, saw new places, ate different foods, and experienced different cultures.
Because of Lizzy’s growing fame, her performances were in great demand. Even kings and queens made requests that she perform for them. On one occasion she accepted the offer from a royal family. This family was known for their extravagance and lavishness. In their castle there was a stage and on that stage she was asked to perform. She performed brilliantly as usual. Afterwards the royal family held a feast in her honor. They served many delights featuring various flavors. After desert, they presented her with gifts of great value as a sign of their appreciation. These gifts were presented to her by the king and queen’s son, Prince Steven. The prince and Lizzy got along very well. The two talked late into the evening. But eventually, time came for Lizzy to leave. Before the two parted ways, they agreed to keep in touch.
Steven attended the next show and even escorted Grandma Diane. He became a big supporter of Lizzy, and he attended the performance after, and another performance after that. The two of them grew very close. They shared their dreams and secrets with each other.
Steven told Lizzy of all the expectations his parents had for him. He spoke of his duty to his country and how the people from his land depended on his family to be good and just, because the welfare for a country depended on its rulers.
Of course Lizzy’s life followed a very different path. She told Steven stories about the tiny village in the forest. She hadn’t really thought about the village in a long time. When she spoke of it she felt happy and yet a bit sad as well. She found herself kind of missing the place.
More magic found its way to Lizzy as she and Prince Steven became best friends. Both of them gained large amounts of fame. They developed into such lovely and gracious young people that they were talked about wherever they went.
One day the king called upon the young prince to lead the royal army. This began the long separation of Steven and Lizzy. Luckily, both had many other things occupying their time.
Despite being separated, the best friends wrote each other often. Lizzy wrote of the beautiful buildings in every city. They never failed to take her breath away. She also wrote to Steven about how different food tasted from place to place.
Steven wrote of his life of rigorous training. The army tested him physically and mentally. He developed into a very strong man. Among his peers he gained the most respect, and his people considered themselves lucky.
The paths of Lizzy and Steven crossed from time to time. And, whenever it happened, it seemed as if no time had passed at all. They caught up on old times, laughed and filled each other in on current details.
Grandma Diane could see the two really loved each other. It made her happy – the magical slippers she gave to Lizzy still worked. It was so hard to imagine how far Lizzy had come, from a tiny village on the side of a mountain to a famous ballerina who dazzled audiences across the world.
One day, Lizzy put the magic slippers away. She did this for many reasons. Her feet had grown, she needed different kinds of slippers to go with her various costumes, and sometimes she had other things on her mind.
The moment the slippers were put into the box, the magic began to fade. Lizzy forget her love of dancing. She only danced for the applause and money. In the past she chose to do little shows for kids who couldn’t afford to watch her perform in a big auditorium. But suddenly there was no time for to do the little shows. Along with the magic slippers, Lizzy put her love of dancing in the box.
Granny sensed the magic had left Lizzy’s feet, but it wasn’t something Grandma Diane could tell Lizzy. Despite all this, Lizzy maintained technically perfect movements. It really broke Grandma Diane’s heart. She wanted return some magic to Lizzy’s dance. But Lizzy had grown to the age where she no longer believed in magic, or at least the most magical things in the world Lizzy took for granted.
It broke her heart to leave Lizzy but, Diane had to go back to the tiny village, deep in the lush, green forest, on the side of a mountain. Diane spent her time at home organizing and looking at pictures and dancing a little bit herself. She began spreading magic in tiny amounts all over town. She had really missed the special little village and the village missed her. The magic she spread around the village made everyone happy. Flowers sprouted up colorful and bright. People felt alive and energetic. And the weather even seemed cheerier. With all the magic going around the village, there was still something missing. In the big city Lizzy prepared for her next ballet when Steven came to surprise her. Steven kneeled, told Lizzy how he loved her, and asked Lizzy to be his queen. Steven had accepted the duty to lead his people. The hopes and dreams of his country rested on his shoulders.
Not having enough time to reply, Lizzy needed to be on stage. The show was about to begin. Steven told her that he would be in the front with Grandma Diane. Lizzy said to Steven, “You’re going to have to sit alone. Grandma Diane has gone home to the village.”
Lizzy ran to take her place on the stage, Steven took his seat, the music began, the curtain raised, and the lights brightened. Like Diane had noticed, the love of dancing had left Lizzy’s feet. Throughout the show she still dazzled the crowd with her flawless dancing but it was only the crowd. Lizzy felt empty on the stage. When the ballet neared its end, Lizzy glanced to Diane’s usual seat and saw it empty. At that moment Lizzy fell. A gasp came from the crowd. Lizzy composed herself, finished the routine, bowed and promptly returned to her dressing room. She found Steven already there waiting for her.
The two of them spoke little. Steven loved Lizzy and didn’t feel it appropriate to talk about his proposal at that moment. Lizzy loved Steven as well but she felt confusion. She didn’t want to make a sudden decision.
That evening, Lizzy walked outside alone in the chilly nippy weather. Overwhelmed, She began to weep as she walked. She wandered into a park, sat on a bench and tried to relax. She took deep breaths, and let the final tear roll down her cheek. The teardrop froze before it hit the ground. With a light wind gently blowing, Lizzy looked around and noticed she was alone. She asked the wind and the trees what she was supposed to do with her life. What would make her happy? She looked at her feet and she asked them the same question.
The wind said to her that she had made a fortune, yet, the money brought her no happiness. The trees spoke and told her she was known the world over and yet she wore no smile. Her feet spoke and they said they loved dancing but they needed rest.
Lizzy listened to everything being said to her. She thought of wonderful Grandma Diane and how simply and freely life passed in her little village. She remembered the first time she began to dance. And of course she remembered the slippers. Her heart began to ache for home.
Then her thoughts turned to the prince’s proposal. She knew she loved her friend so very much but she did not want the responsibility of being a queen. She knew the next day she needed to see Steven. She decided to get sleep.
When she fell asleep, vivid colorful dreams played in her head. Never before had her dreams been so alive. The dreams showed her the joy she brought to the lives of many through her dancing, the smiling faces all aglow from he dancing. She dreamt about being a queen. She dreamt of the beautiful things, which would surround her, and finally she dreamt of how happy she would be in her little village, deep in a lush green forest, on the side of a mountain.
Morning came and Lizzy met with Steven. She spoke with him about what her dreams told her and what nature told her. She explained that she needed to follow what they said. Then she asked him if it was possible for him to be happy living a simple life with her in her village. Steven thought about her question and said he could not abandon his people. It was impossible for him to go live in the village. He told Lizzy that he could be happy anywhere if she was there with him, but he could not fail an entire kingdom of people, which depended on him. The two of them agreed that he should go and be a great king and that Lizzy should return to her village. They agreed maybe circumstances would be different in the future. But, at that moment, it would be impossible for Steven to leave his people or for Lizzy not to go be with her grandmother in their village.
Steven gave Lizzy a kiss then rode off. Lizzy looked around and spotted her box which held her magical ballet slippers. A light bit of dust rested on the cover. She wiped the dust off the cover and began to pack some things together for her journey home.
Diane had been very busy helping out here and there in the village. There was one particular couple who were very, very poor. They asked Diane if she could help give them advice. They told Diane that the wife expected to have a baby soon and they worried about their baby’s future. They asked if it was possible to sprinkle a little magic their way to make sure the baby would be born happy and healthy.
Diane smiled as she made for the couple a dream catcher. She picked beautiful blue, green, and orange colored materials. A dream catcher looks like a round hoop. It had orange and the blue strings interwoven in side the circle. Some green and orange feathers dangled at the bottom. Diane told the couple to hang it outside their home to catch the good dreams. The couple thanked her and headed home to do as she asked.
Steven returned to his land. He made a great king and did many good things for his people. They prospered greatly under his rule.
Lizzy journeyed home with a slow pace. One particular day as Lizzy walked towards the village in the forest, a tornado swirled. It swept though the trees and the village. Leaves and branches swirled everywhere, the sun had been dimmed by dark clouds. Lizzy knew her position in the forest. She was very close to her village and continued the rest of the journey trekking through the storm.
Back in the village many people gathered together at Grandma Diane’s home they asked her if she could do something to keep the village safe from the storm. Grandma Diane knew she had the power to protect everyone but it would take every bit of her spirit. She gladly decided to sacrifice herself.
She began to cast her spell and she became a bright glowing light. As her strength grew it became difficult for eyes to look at her. She was pure energy. She battled the darkness for a long time. Without a body, Granny she was one with nature. The light and the darkness danced together.
Light always prevails. Granny had worn down the darkness. As the darkness retreated, it promised it would return. Since granny no longer had a body, her spirit sought the poor couple. She found them from the dream catcher outside the home. She decided she would let herself be reborn as the couple’s baby. So the same day the storm ended baby Diane was reborn.
Lizzy witnessed the battle from the center of the storm. She had no idea it was the spirit of Grandma Diane fighting off the massive storm. Arriving in the village, Lizzy received greetings from everyone. They all remembered the special little grand daughter of Diane. They told Lizzy what Diane did for the village. It was impossible to believe Diane was gone. She suddenly discovered that she had lost her precious magical slippers in the storm.
As Lizzy entered grandma Diane’s house the scents and the sights brought back familiar feelings. The house was just as she remembered. She felt happy in the house. She felt safe. She felt so much pride in the magic of her grandmother’s love.
Lizzy wished she had a chance to tell her grandmother how much she loved her, to tell Diane how much she meant to her. Then, thoughts of Steven entered her mind. She missed him immensely and wished he could come live with her in the village. She decided to write Steven a letter telling him she had moved back to her village. She wrote him the story of the big storm and how Diane saved the village. She also told him she felt lonely without him or Diane to keep her company.
Lizzy lived in her grandmother’s house and she acquainted herself with her grandmother’s things. She read some of Diane’s magical books. Slowly day after day Lizzy’s own magic grew stronger as she practiced making flowers brighter and vividly more colorful. She even learned to make sickness go away. Her thoughts seemed to always wander back to dancing though. Perhaps it’s because magic and dancing both reminded Lizzy of her grandmother. Sometimes she even caught herself moving to music.
For a few years the magic slippers stayed in the box untouched and hidden away. Then, one day, out of the blue a hungry fox searching for food found the box. He tipped it over and only found a pair of unedible magical slippers. The fox fiddled around with the slippers for a while and got entangled with them. As the fox trotted along he found himself wandering into the home of the poor couple. They were the parents of the cutest little girl in the village, little Diane. While playing in the yard, little Diane saw the fox. It made her laugh as it played with the straps of the shoes. Finally when the fox untangled himself, he ran off and left the slippers behind.
Little Diane ran to grab the special slippers. Immediately she felt connected to them. She ran inside to show her mom and dad what she found. Both the mother and father took it as a sign. They knew about Grandma Diane’s love of ballet and they knew of Lizzy coming back to live in the village. They both agreed they must take little Diane to see Lizzy. The two parents showed up to the same house they went to years earlier, before their baby was born. When Lizzy opened the door there was an immediate connection between her and Diane. Lizzy invited everyone inside and offered them some special tea. Lizzy listened to the couple talk. They asked her if they might convince her to teach Diane how to dance. She said she didn’t dance much herself anymore. She said she probably wouldn’t be very good at teaching somebody else. All of a sudden the magic slippers fell out of the mother’s bag.
Lizzy was shocked to see the slippers before her eyes. She thought they were lost forever. She asked the couple where the slippers came from. When the couple told her how a fox brought them to little Diane, she cast all doubts aside and agreed to teach little Diane the art of ballet. Diane was a natural. She soaked up dance with her entire being. The next few years Diane’s life would be filled with many days of dance.
Far away from the forest, Steven’s country had been involved in a long, tedious war. There were bad men who wanted to conquer the land and make it their own. The fighting made Steven very sad. He never wanted any of his people to get hurt. Never the less, the people stood by their king. They loved him dearly and they would do anything for him.
After years of fighting the bad men gave up. They decided that it would be impossible to take this land from Steven and the people.
Seeing the determination and intelligence of the citizens throughout the war, Steven decided that they did not need him to be their king. The people said that they were very proud of their great King. He then explained to them how honored he felt but the time had come for them to rule themselves. He told them that they were great people and they could have choices. They could pick their own rulers. They could all have a say in the way they wanted things to be.
So, the people held an election for a president. It just so happened the people elected Steven. He agreed to accept on one condition. He first needed to make a journey.
Steven had spent many days of the war thinking of Lizzy and he wanted to see if she was O.K. He wanted to talk to her and hold her hand.
He took off to find Lizzy and her tiny village. It didn’t matter how long it would take him, he made it his mission to find the village.
Back at the village, Lizzy taught little Diane how to listen to feel the emotion form the music and how to listen to her feet. The love of ballet was still alive and well inside her. She knew joy and contentment. When Lizzy wasn’t teaching ballet, she practiced bright magic. She learned about all the ways to make people smile. She could talk to animals and play with them. She became even more powerful than her grandmother.
But, one day the darkness made its way back to the village. The news of the storm came from a neighboring village. Word had it that the storm left behind wreckage everywhere. Hearing this, Lizzy knew what she had to do. Just like Grandma Diane she prepared to protect the village.
Knowing it was the last time she’d see little Diane, Lizzy told her student to always dance with love, and to listen to her feet. The universe would take care of the rest. Lizzy then took little Diane home and the storm’s rustlings began. First a few leaves blew into the air then the wind swept over the ground. Everything flew around in the gusts. The storm had grown stronger. It wanted everyone to see just how strong it was.
Lizzy fully prepared for her battle against the storm. She had once been the star of her village and she was not about to let a storm upstage her. She recited her spell and went right into the middle of the storm. She remembered being in the middle of the storm. And the storm remembered her. But in the middle of it she danced. She danced against the storm with a fever. And, like Grandma Diane, she became bright energy. The storm and Lizzy danced a violent and furious ballet. When the two forces collided there was thunder and lightning. All the forces of nature swirled together. When it was all over the storm fled. Lizzy kept her village from complete destruction. She told the storm not to come back because she would always be there to protect the village.
Even though the storm had fled and the village survived, Lizzy sadly lingered above. She wept thinking of Steven, and Diane, and dancing. The tears she cried became a soft, sad rain. It rained and rained and rained. Steven traveled a long time to find Lizzy’s village. He traveled across oceans, though deserts and climbed mountains. He asked many people how to get to the village of the famed ballerina Lizzy. It was when he reached a neighboring village did someone tell Steven the story of a ballerina and a storm. But it always rained there.
It didn’t sound like the village Lizzy described to Steven in their long talks but he thought he’d go find out for himself.
Steven rode a horse on the same trail Lizzy travelled many, many years ago. And the same fox which brought Diane the magic ballet slippers still played and lived in the area. The fox felt frisky that day and he nipped at the heels of Steven’s horse. The horse played along chased the fox into Lizzy’s village.
Lizzy happened to be watching from above and it was the first time in a very long time she laughed. She had no idea it was Steven on that horse. The horse didn’t settle down until it reached the front of little Diane’s house.
Steven looked around and he saw a pair of slippers next to a dream catcher hanging over a porch. He called out to see if anyone was home. Diane and her parents came outside. It surprised them to see someone on a horse in the village. They knew he wasn’t from around so they asked Steven if he had gotten lost or needed directions. Steven said he wasn’t sure. He told them who he was and that he had been searching for Lizzy for a long time.
Little Diane spoke and a glimmer came to her eye. She told Steven that Lizzy had taught her ballet. The parents then invited Steven into their home. They told Steven everything that happened. They told him about both of the storms and they told him wonderful stories about Grandma Diane and Lizzy. Of course he remembered just how special they were. They told him about the rain.
Lizzy had been watching everything happened from above. She felt so happy to see that Steven had not forgotten her. She danced and the sun shined. She danced and the birds sang. She danced and the flowers bloomed.
It was an awesome sight. A gentle breeze passed. In the breeze Lizzy whispered to Steven. She told him that she loved him. She told him that now she knew how much he loved her. Steven did not know what to say. He asked her if there was anything he could do to make her happy.
Lizzy told Steven that he already made her happy. He asked if there were any way to see her. She told him to look up. Everyone looked up and they saw Lizzy dancing. It was an amazing sight. She danced high above them. The sight took everyone’s breath away. She ended by floating on a breeze and told Steven that one day they would be together again.
Steven stood in awe of everything his eyes saw. He was about to leave, but he wanted to ask the couple if little Diane still danced since Lizzy had been gone. Sadly, no, they said. They told him they were poor and that they couldn’t afford to pay for Diane to learn. Lizzy had taught Diane from her own love of ballet. She never wanted payment.
Steven knew what he had to do. He asked the parents if they would accept his offer to take little Diane to his country. He wanted to give their daughter the opportunity to become a great dancer. The parents said that of course they wanted her to have every chance in life but it would be up to little Diane.
Little Diane’s decision was that she would go learn be cause she loved dance, but she wanted to be able to come home and visit often. She said she never wanted to forget where the most special place of all.
Steven said that for Diane’s age she was too smart. He thought it was a great idea. This way he could come and see Lizzy as well. Everyone agreed and the next day little Diane rode away with Steven to become the next famous ballerina.
Diane danced and she became wealthy. She built her parents a big house and she visited the village often. Steven kept guiding his country until he felt it was strong and secure. When the time came that little Diane could support herself and his country didn’t need his help, he disappeared.
It’s said he went to live quietly alone on the mountainside so he could always be close to Lizzy. There he lived until the day he could join her. So when Lizzy is seen dancing on the tops of trees around her village, Steven is up there with her watching and smiling. Together.
Until the next adventure