Creativity School Storytime: When Adversity Met the Little Goat, Vanessa Brantley-Newton

Have you ever wondered what it feels like to be different – you stutter a lot, you can’t read and understand things like everyone else, or you can’t concentrate on your tasks? 

The Creativity School features this special story from our very own Vanessa Brantley-Newton, When Adversity Met The Little Goat, and learn how to celebrate uniqueness and embrace one’s self.

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Vanessa Brantley-Newton

A close-up photo of Vanessa Newton smiling

Vanessa Brantley-Newton is an award-winning artist who teaches how to make beautiful collages and the art of singing at Creativity School.

Vanessa embraces all cultures and individuality through her works, and wants to inspire young artists to find their own ways to express themselves.

In a nice chit-chat with our Creativity School’s educational director, Hydi Hoeger, Vanessa Brantley-Newton shared a short story about a little goat, and how it taught her to celebrate self-acceptance and diversity.

The Wonderful Little Goat

A sketch of a farmer, his wife, and their wonderful goat

Hydi Hoeger: I’m wondering and I’m springing this on you, Vanessa. I was watching your Ted Talk last night and I had never heard the story about the goat. Would you mind sharing the story about the goat? And if we have time we’ll ask some questions. Shake it up to me.

Vanessa Brantley-Newton: Absolutely! You know the goat story is very near and dear to me and Coy because we were very very special little children. I’ll tell you why after the story.

The Story

There was a farmer and his wife who had a little goat and they loved this little goat very very much but the goat had a lot of problems.

Graphical representation of a goat that stutters, has dyslexia, and has synesthesia

You see the goat stuuuuttttters really badly and it had a reading problem and couldn’t read the things on the farm properly and always got them backwards and messed up. 

Then it always had these sensory issues that would make it buck and carry on every time it was afraid or felt something.

A goat tied beside a well

One day the farmer and his wife decided they were going to go into town and they tied the little goat up outside near the well. Now, while the farmers were away, the goat heard one of the cocks crowed and it's killing her so badly that she bucked… and bucked… and bucked until she ended up in the well. Now, the well was very very deep, and she looked around and said, I’m stuck in the well. 

“What am I supposed to do?”

You know her parents told her that, 

“If you ever feel afraid or whatever you feel you cant get your words out. All you need to do is sing. [cuz she stutter really badly so they taught her to sing.]

So she sang songs for herself, to entertain herself.

And the farmer and his wife came back one day and called,

“Little goat? Little goat? Where are you, little goat?”

An“I’m-m hee-re-e i-nn the the we-e-ll!" shout out on top of the well

And basically, the little goat was like, “I’m-m hee-re-e i-nn the the we-e-ll!”

And the farmer and his wife ran over to the well and they saw the little goat.

“Oh my goodness! What are we gonna do?! The goat is in the well! What are we going to do?!”

People heard the screaming and hollering and so all the neighbors came running to [their house] and said,

“What’s wrong?”

“Well our goat has fallen deep into the well!”

“But what are you gonna do?”, said the people. 

“Well, I gotta run to the shed, and I’m gonna get my rope and I'll throw it into the well.”

Just as he said it, the other people in the community said, “You can’t do that. If you throw that rope down there, you’re going to kill her! So let’s think about what we can do.”

And while they thought, the little goat sang songs like,

A goat inside the well singing, “I’m coming out! I want the world to know, gotta let it show…”

“I’m coming out! I want the world to know, gotta let it show…”

She sang songs to herself and she was entertaining herself while she waited. 

And so the people in the community said, “Is this the goat with all the problems? 

The farmer’s wife said, “Yeah.”

“And why are you trying to save her?”

“We love her very very much.” 

“But she’s deep in the well, and it's not gonna get out. We think the best thing to do is just bury her.”, the people said.

“Bury her?”

“Yes. Throw all the dirt into the well, just give her a decent burial.”

And the farmer and his wife looked at each other, and they knew.

“We can’t do anything to get her out. What are we going to do?”

So they all went to their sheds and they got their shovels and they came back and began to shovel dirt deep into the well.

They shovel the dirt and every time they shovel the dirt, the little goat did something that nobody expected.

A graphical representation of a goat shaking off to remove dirt shoveled into the well.

Every time she felt the dirt on her back, she would shake It off and pack it underneath her feet.

Every time she felt that dirt on her back, her sensory issues would make her shake it off and

 pack it underneath her feet, and she would step on the dirt.

And when they would shovel the dirt on her, she would step on more dirt…

Shake It off…and pack it under…

Shake it off…and pack it under…

Shake it off, pack it under…

Shake it off…

A close-up sketch of a happy goat

Until, she rolls out of the dark well, the golden goat she was.

Diversity from Adversity

After telling the short story, she said that she can relate to the goat, and that it was her whole life experience: adversity.

Vanessa Brantley-Newton: I am the Goat. I stutter really badly. I sing to keep myself from stuttering. That's how me and Ms. Coy learned how to sing. And I have sensory issues. Remember I told you it’s called Synesthesia? It is the ability to see, smell, feel, taste, and hear colors. 

Sounds like fun? Don’t they? It’s not fun all the time. But it does make me a little different than other people. It makes me taste the color yellow that tastes like pickles. And the sound of pink sounds like bells, and blue tastes like salt to me. And black sounds like harmony. I’m a little different, but I got 5 minutes and I’m going to just say to you all:

You all have differences.

Everybody has differences. Some people like gray clouds in the sky and they like rain, other people like the sunshine and that’s okay. Whatever you like is okay. When we do all kinds of artwork, it is about you expressing yourself and in doing so, hopefully you find out who you are and that you can do whatever you put your mind to do.

Hydi Hoeger: I love that story because I think a lot of times we listen to people who say that we should just let it go or she’s not going to amount to anything or she’s not good at this. Don’t focus on that. If we listen to things like that, we let it limit us. If it makes us stop growing, then I would say they win, but that’s not quite what’s right, because we don’t grow the way we could.

Hydi Shares Her Own Experience

Hydi shared her own experience on embracing her uniqueness.

Hydi Hoeger: So for me, I have  Attention Deficit hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), which growing up, I thought I was really dumb like the whole time. I was growing up and I remember a parent-teacher conference back when I was little and the kids cannot go. I remember sitting there at home wondering what they were saying about me. My mom came home and she was disappointed that during story time, I could not sit still like other kids. I would get up and walk to the window and I would be listening but I would need to do something else while I was listening. So I really thought I was dumb and then when I went to college, I took an IQ test and I’m not bragging because it doesn't need too much but I was a 132! I’m technically a genius that I went, “No, that's not right. I'm really dumb. I'm really bad at everything that I do.” So my doctor said no you're not. You just need to learn to work with your skills and work with your things. So they became my superpower instead of somethings that limit me.

Vanessa Brantley-Newton: I love that, Hydi! I am so glad you shared that because I know while you guys are watching us, your parents are there as well, with you, some of you. and I wanna say to the parents.

A Message to Parents

Vanessa Brantley-Newton
: Sometimes we are so discouraged by what doctors and other therapists and different people say and all that they're not going to amount to anything. Listen. You don't know that your child may end up being the next Arree Chung, the next Hydi, or the next Vanessa.

“We need to be advocates for our children”

Vanessa Brantley-Newton
: We gotta keep putting positive things in our kids telling them that they can do even the hard thing. They can do it if they put their minds to it. We need to be advocates for our children, not somebody else. Sometimes we’re looking for the teachers and others to be…..No, you be the advocate for your kids. Well, you say “How can I get my kids what I've never got?” Think about it even harder. That's why you need to give it to make sure that they get it. 

“Give them the encouragement.”

Vanessa Brantley-Newton
: Tell them they did a good job, and if they don’t do a good job, you know what, we're gonna try again. That's what we're gonna do because you need to be able to forgive yourself. That's it. When I make a mistake, I need to forgive myself. And I know that my mom and dad forgive me too. Even if I do get a little punishment, you still love me, you still care about me, and that I could do it all over. Okay? That is really important.

A Message to Students: Stand Up for Yourself

Hydi Hoeger: And kids, it's also super important that you stand up for yourself. And you do the best you can with the skills that you have. You don't let anyone put dirt on you. You shake it off, and pack it under.

Vanessa: That's right you shake it off and pack it under! Shake it off and pack it under! Shake it off and pack it under!

Vanessa and Hydi: Now say it with us.


Did you enjoy our storytime? Share your unique experiences in the comment section below. 

Watch more of Vanessa and Hydi's lovely conversation here.

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