If you want to talk fast-lane credentials, Wanda Urbanska has 'em in spades. She was named one of Glamour magazine's "Top Ten College Women" of 1977, interned at Newsweek, worked as an editor at the Paris Review literary magazine in New York and was an editor and business writer at the Los Angeles Herald Examiner.

So how on earth did she and her husband, Frank Levering (a successful Hollywood screenwriter), end up in the little North Carolina town that served as the prototype for Andy Griffith's Mayberry?That very story may lure those who are up-to-here with I-15 hassles and a too-busy lifestyle to Weber State University this Thursday for the 10:30 a.m. Wanda Urbanska lecture. (Call Julie Byrne at 801-626-7237 for location).

In a telephone interview from her office in Mount Airy, N.C., Urbanska talked about the stresses of journalism and the movie industry. About working so hard but seeing so little for it. And the fact that there was no time for community. "Life was imbalanced," she said.

Urbanska felt that life in L.A. was totally focused on work. She said you can define your standard of living by the consumer price index or by your income. "Many two-career couples don't even have the time to spend the money they're earning," she said. "We loved our time in Los Angeles; we don't dislike L.A., but it wasn't conducive to leading multidimensional lives."

In 1986 the opportunity arose for the couple to take over the orchard business that belonged to Frank's family. "It was a radical shift in our lives but with no sinecure - the business was gradually going downhill," she said. But they decided to take the risk. Urbanska said it was scary putting themselves in a vulnerable position. "But you can't control life. If you're proactively seeking change, you can create a better quality of life."

The couple took over the 30-acre cherry orchard in the Blue Ridge Mountains, much to the dismay of their California friends. "Your minds will turn to mush!" they warned. "There's nothing to write about!" But Urbanska found that her creative life bloomed along with the cherry orchard.

The cherry orchard is now a pick-your-own venture that is successful. And along the way Urbanska put on many different hats. She was editor of a start-up newspaper that she says "thrust me into community life." She joined the Rotary Club, was elected to the board of directors of the United Fund (her town's version of the United Way) and mentored a "little sister" once a week for a year. Urbanska also wrote the application for the town of Mount Airy for the 1994 designation of "All-American City" from the National Civic League, which it won, one of just 10 in the nation that year.

Urbanska is delighted that the lifestyle change has reaped even more benefits. "In L.A. we were nature-starved. Mount Airy is one of the most beautiful places on earth. You walk outside your house and there's wildlife everywhere. We had an eastern brown bear in the orchard and wild turkeys and deer. I've seen hawks and lots of birds! With 30 acres of cherries how do you keep birds out? In a way, I like feeding the birds. They're out there singing, happily munching on our cherries," she said.

Another benefit is seeing how many people come to pick cherries bringing kids, buckets and a picnic. "They come back 4 or 5 times and you know they're not eating that many cherries - they're coming back for the experience."

Urbanska and her husband have written two books about lifestyle change, "Simple Living" (Viking/Penguin, 1992) and "Moving to a Small Town" (A Fireside Book, published by Simon & Schuster, 1996). Urbanska has appeared on The Today Show, The Oprah Winfrey Show and CBS This Morning. She was heard on NPR's All Things Considered and was featured in the PBS documentary film, "Running Out of Time."

Perhaps the sweetest result of the risk-taking change was founding a publishing company. "We've brought out four books and the one `Love, MOM' by Frank's mother, cost $7,000 to print and has sold $25,000. One of her old friends nominated it for the National Methodist Women's Book List and it's in a second printing," Urbanska said.

When told this reporter is moving to the small Sanpete County town of Fountain Green, Urbanska delightedly gave her best wishes. "I have found in taking risks it invariably works out in ways you wouldn't expect. But you must be in a posture to make change and seek change."