Marigene Kowalski, preserving her memories of family and friends in new book “Airport Socks”

Marigene Kowalski (nee La Sala) had been collecting anecdotes and short stories about family members for 10 years. She successfully put them all together in an enjoyable, nostalgic, often amusing collection called “Airport Socks”, an idea that came to her as a way to preserve memories of family and friends, especially for her grandson, Nicholas, the next generation. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, Gene.


Personal Links:

Email address: [email protected]

Facebook: Marigene Kowalski (Marigene La Sala Kowalski) -

Facebook: Airport Socks, Book

Here are the links to purchase the book:

Airport Socks at Amazon

Airport Socks at Amazon Short Link

Airport Socks at Barnes & Noble 

Airport Socks at Barnes & Noble Short Link 

Airport Socks at Target 

Airport Socks at Target Short Link

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Sharman Nittoli: 0:12

Welcome to the Live Your Bloom podcast, where I interview people involved with their ongoing journey to blooming and fulfillment. This week I have an unusual guest, Marigene Kowalski. And she has been enjoying writing poems and short stories since grade school. She wrote a book of short stories about her family history. It's a beautiful collection. I had a lot of fun reading it and related to a lot of the stories. It is called "Airport Socks." And that title actually, well, you know what? I'm not going to tell you the title. She's going to tell you about the title. Marigene lives in New Jersey with her husband, Gene, whom I believe was a great supporter of the book. Welcome, Marigene.

Marigene Kowalski: 0:59

Thank you. Thank you for having me.

Sharman Nittoli: 1:01

Oh, my pleasure. I would really love for my listeners to hear the story about what motivated you to write this book, how it came to be, how long it took to complete, and where you got the title from.

Marigene Kowalski: 1:13

This may be in the Guinness Book of Records for the longest collection of stories. It's been at least 10 years. What I would do is compose little stories about people, or friends, or family, and just kind of tuck them away in a file. And one day I said, you know, especially since my grandson was born, I said, "This is a great opportunity for me to see if I can publish this. Not only for him, but for anyone." So, I started doing that, especially for him. The origin of the book title, "Airport Socks," comes from when my daughter wanted to borrow a carry-on bag from me. So I lend it to her, and then she's looking through the things in it, and there's a pair of athletic socks. Okay, why would she have them? It turns out, when she was in her flip flops at the TSA check in the New Jersey airport, she realized why there were socks in there.

Sharman Nittoli: 2:08


Marigene Kowalski: 2:09

"I had to take off my flip flops and walk barefoot. Thanks, mom."

Sharman Nittoli: 2:15

Because it's a very unusual title and it brings you into the book, the tone of the book, the feeling of the book. I know, I had marked so many of my favorite passages, but perhaps you could just tell one, which was about how your grandmother and grandfather met?

Marigene Kowalski: 2:31

That's an interesting story. They were in Italy, and actually my grandmother's family did not think he was the nicest person in the world, but they were in love. So they decided when they were over here then, they were in America. And he got the bright idea to elope. I found this out on a computer story. Okay, so he sent her a note. Her cousin was supposed to be keeping an eye on her, so she didn't fly off, you know, fly off the coop with him. So anyway, she met him at town hall and they were married. Brought a couple of friends. But the thing is that after they left and were married, the Justice of the Peace found a note on the floor that my grandfather had sent to her, "Just sneak out and meet me." So 10 children later?

Sharman Nittoli: 3:18


Marigene Kowalski: 3:19

That was the LaSala family.

Sharman Nittoli: 3:21

Yeah, and all of the stories, I don't think any of them are longer than two pages, maybe. And when you read something like that, especially if we're of similar ages here.

I relate to it because those were the times back then. You have a lot of stories there about the family being very close.

Marigene Kowalski: 3:41


Marigene Kowalski: 3:43

I had my grandmother and a couple of uncles living with us, and it was inter-generational.

Sharman Nittoli: 3:48


Marigene Kowalski: 3:48

And that was the nice part.

Sharman Nittoli: 3:49

Yeah. So, why I love this so much? Is because in my group, the Live Your Bloom, where I have people and we have a work group. It's just a group work sessions where we get together and declare what we're working on, and then they go for it. Well, some of them will talk about wanting to write a book, or wanting to play piano, or wanting to do something, stepping out of their comfort zone, which I always think is fantastic because I think it has a fantastic effect on everything else you do in your life. But they will allow that little inner critic to talk them out of it. Well, all of a sudden they're saying, "Oh, I'm too old. Why would I write a book? Who's going to buy it? Why would I waste the money? Why? Why? Why?" And I wonder if you can address that.

Marigene Kowalski: 4:34

I had the same feeling, like, I enjoy writing, but is it going to be trouble to do this, right? "Are people going to be interested? Is this real?" You know, I'm pinching myself. But I think my grandson, Nicholas, really turned me around there as, you know, someone tapping on the shoulder from above, excuse me, and said, "Yes, go ahead."

Sharman Nittoli: 4:56

Yeah, and you know, maybe they'll add to it? Or maybe you started some kind of a tradition where there will become, "Airport Socks Part Two"? And they'll start to add stories to it, you know?

Marigene Kowalski: 5:07


Sharman Nittoli: 5:07

And you said that you have been writing your whole life since elementary school. Did you write other forms instead of not just short stories, but other forms of literature too?

Marigene Kowalski: 5:18

Yes, they were pretty much poems. I was featured in my high school literary magazine a few times, and that made my day.

Sharman Nittoli: 5:25

Yeah. But, you know, it's funny that, like those of us who graduated college, or high school, or whatever. When it came to writing, we knew how to write. So, if someone would say, you know, "Write a term paper." "No problem." "Write this, or that, or the other thing." "No problem." But we didn't consider ourselves writers.

Marigene Kowalski: 5:46

You know, my husband said, "Gene, you were a writer, but now you're an author." Kind of lifted me up a little.

Sharman Nittoli: 5:52

I will say, you're both. He's a hundred percent right. And I'm sure he was behind you all the way.

Marigene Kowalski: 5:57


Marigene Kowalski: 5:59

Thank God.

Sharman Nittoli: 6:00

Did you have other authors in your family, any journals of family members that you read?

Marigene Kowalski: 6:06

Not that I know of particularly.

Sharman Nittoli: 6:08

You did say that you would've loved to read your grandmother's life story had she written it?

Marigene Kowalski: 6:12

Exactly. Yeah, you know, but she was busy raising 10 children, so I suppose I was the back for...

Sharman Nittoli: 6:19

They, they did that back then. They had a lot of children, right? That was the norm, not the exception.

Marigene Kowalski: 6:25


Sharman Nittoli: 6:25

And you covered a lot of people in your book, and I'll bet that you could have covered a lot more, but how did you actually select them?

Marigene Kowalski: 6:33

They were my immediate household family. And I did a page on each of them and what they meant to me, you know? My mom passed when I was eight. So I was fortunate to have my grandmother in the house with us to help me along.

Sharman Nittoli: 6:47

Well, we talked about insecurity, but how did you work through it?

Marigene Kowalski: 6:50

Oh, I had the whole family's help and there really was no family counseling back then, you know? But, we did what we could, and I knew there was a lot of love in the house.

Sharman Nittoli: 7:00

Yeah. Well, what I would like to know is, having written the book, having had it published -  because when I first communicated with you, you were telling me about the book, and anybody who follows through and does the thing they want to do - it impresses me to no end. So, have you found that you feel differently, that you might tackle something else as a result?

Marigene Kowalski: 7:24

Yes, sometimes I doubt myself in life. And this was an actual, you know, this was an accomplishment, a stepping stone, and it was an accomplishment for me. A little, you know, something tactile that I can say, "I did this. My accomplishment." So that's a great feeling.

Sharman Nittoli: 7:41

And the other thing is that it is a quality book, and it comes in paperback and Kindle, I believe, right?

Marigene Kowalski: 7:49

Yes, an e-read.

Sharman Nittoli: 7:50

So for my listeners right here, this is a woman who had a plan and she did it. She showed up for herself, which I always say,  that is the bottom line. Showing up for yourself the way you showed up for everybody else for how many years. If you put a portion of that energy into yourselves, you will finish that dream that you've been working on. And now you've got a book that's on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Target.

Marigene Kowalski: 8:17

Barnes and Noble, Amazon, Walmart, Target.

Sharman Nittoli: 8:20

Isn't that amazing? And I have put that all on the landing page for the podcast. So if you want to get in touch with Marigene, her contact information is there. And if you want to buy this book, I promise you're going to enjoy it and relate to it, and it may inspire you to do the same.

Marigene Kowalski: 8:38

Thank you so much. There's also a new Facebook page called "Airport Socks Book" that was created for me by my wonderful cousin, Jackson.

Sharman Nittoli: 8:45

Oh, fantastic. Okay, "Airport Socks Book." Oh, terrific. That's good to know. So I'll make sure that that's included as well. And anything else you'd like to add?

Marigene Kowalski: 8:56

I want to thank my cousin for his wonderful assistance in the production and cleaning up of photos for the book, Jefferson Harmon. I couldn't have done it without him. And I, I appreciate your time with me.

Sharman Nittoli: 9:09

Oh, my pleasure. I just think things, you know. I think we're all special and famous in our own way. And when you do something like this, you have no idea who you inspire and who you touch.

Marigene Kowalski: 9:22

I think that's true. I want to thank you for your inspiration of showing up for yourself. That's a great phrase.

Sharman Nittoli: 9:29

Yeah, yeah, show up for yourself. If we have a list of things to do. The thing like that would be the book or the thing that is your dream. I always call it "your dream seed." For some reason, it's at the bottom of the list. And when you don't get to everything, that's the first thing to go, and I always say flip it. That should be the first thing you do when you get up in the morning. I don't care if it's for 20 minutes. You put together enough 20-minute chunks of time and you are going to finish the project.

Marigene Kowalski: 9:59

Love it.

Sharman Nittoli: 9:59

You know, unless you're talking about being a brain surgeon or something, that's a whole different thing. But, you know, I don't believe that if you've got that thing that's haunting you and your brain, and it keeps saying, "You know what I should do? Or, you know, I always wanted to play piano? I always want to play guitar." What's stopping you? You've got nothing but time right now, you know?

Marigene Kowalski: 10:20

Just do it.

Sharman Nittoli: 10:21

Just do it. And you don't know how it's going to affect you in a synergistic way, that it's just going to give you so much self-esteem and confidence and it's going to spill over in everything else you do.

Marigene Kowalski: 10:32


Sharman Nittoli: 10:33

Yep. That's why I say, "Live Your Bloom."

Marigene Kowalski: 10:37

There you go.

Sharman Nittoli: 10:37

That is valuable. And you did.

Marigene Kowalski: 10:40

Thank you so much.

Sharman Nittoli: 10:41

Oh, my pleasure. Thank you so much.

Marigene Kowalski: 10:43

I love your Bloom program. I love, it's very inspirational.

Sharman Nittoli: 10:47

Oh, well now you're part of the inspiration. How about that? All right. Thanks again.

Marigene Kowalski: 10:54

Thank you. Have a great day.

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