Movin' On with Nellie: We are what we sew and what we Tweet


I mentioned in my last column that I learned to sew from my mom and in afternoon Home Economics class—back when high schools taught the basic skills needed to run a home or a career woman’s household.

As I look back to early elementary years, my first memory of sewing was stitching with a toy replica Singer machine. It was about half the size the grown-up black and gold version was; but it sewed a chain stitch pretty as any basting stitch could be. It was hand operated with a wheel but could be converted to an electric pedal. I sewed baby doll clothes, and blankets for dolls with it too. Watching my mom cut and stitch little patterns for the Barbie Doll inspired me to keep seaming different dresses for my fashionable Mattel doll. One stitch became a side seam until it was a fully created garment.

Sewing seemed important because not only was Mom always sewing; but in Sunday School, teachers recited the Galatians 6:7 verse: Whatever you SEW that’s what you’ll reap. I did learn that sew also meant “planting” as in olden times (two millennia ago), farmers threw seed out on the tilled soil. One seed grew into a sprout then into a whole field of crops.

Part of sewing was also picking out the material and the pattern to sew. Flipping through the Simplicity or McCall’s pattern books, I can remember sitting with mom and ahh-ing over new seasonal patterns. Touching the poplin, jersey, brocade, cotton gauze or sateen was important to see if the “feel of the material” would transfer into the design we wanted.

Sometime as a teen and when I learned about metaphors, similes and tropes, I decided that “What you sew, you’ll also reap,” pertained to our living with others. Life is like the verse because when we are generous with others, others are then generous with us and so the feelings grow, as the Troggs sang in the 60s. When we send out greetings for a good day and smiles crease our faces, mirror neurons (a type of brain cell) in others’ brains reflect our smiles and hear our hellos. Like the folk song “Pass it on,” one encouraging word is passed on and around the prairies, the purple mountains, the gorges, the pueblos, inlets, paths through Yellowstone and Rocky Mountains. Then a movement is afoot in our steps, seams and souls.

This notion is so important today as mean memes are pervasive through our social media and political tweets out of the Whitehouse. I for one do not want to live in a world made up of mean memes but would rather live in a “kinder gentler nation” where we move away from demeaning each other with words repeated daily on Twitter and Facebook.

Remember adages like, ”You are what you eat” or to remake that one, “You are what you tweet.” As a society it would be better to build a fractal world composed of many, many small kind gestures and thoughts that propagate into sharing, tolerance, understanding and peace than to proliferate ugliness that expands into chemical attacks and wars with each other and planetary perversions on cultures and subcultures. 

We’ve seen it happen in history when Adolf Hitler took his hate to the people in the social media of the day. With one small whisper that grew into the “Big Lie,” he and the Nazis sewed the people’s mirror neurons around their dastardly deeds and belched out hell on the world with their slaughter of innocents: children, mothers, fathers, families, towns. It was as if love had left the planet. 

What you sew in your mind and heart or post on Twitter and FaceBook, you reap in the halls, streets, corridors and living rooms of your life. Sew love, harvest peace.

—Nelda Curtiss is a retired college professor who enjoys writing and fine arts. Contact her at [email protected]

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