1963 RSHS Graduate Lights up Lives with Magic World-wide
Rock Springs WY 2030-12-31 City Journal
by Feature Editor Julia Bright
Shirley Koritnik and I saw each other last at our graduation from Rock Springs High School in May of 1963. Lean and lithe with the same youthful grin and twinkling eyes that I remember so well from our class Vice-President, Shirley doesn’t look her 85 years as she steps vigorously into the tiny lounge in the KVRS radio station.
Shirley has parlayed into a global impact her fascination and love of radio which she’d developed as the anchor for two years of a weekly high school news show which she had initiated along with friends and classmates Ann Brown and Mary White. The three also shared Valedictorian honors.
Shirley starts the interview laughing about how green they were at broadcasting, how often they muted huge bursts of laughter, and how much fun they had debriefing each show at the Sands Cafe, smoking forbidden cigarettes and thinking they were pretty hot stuff.
“We were all debaters and pretty facile with words, so we never scripted anything! That often got us into big trouble the next day with Ms Westbrook, our English teacher and project sponsor,” Shirley chuckles, remembering. “But from the earliest days I knew we were providing a vital service in our community. It was the 60s and adults were on edge about kids and drugs and pop culture–and they could hear that we weren’t that. For kids our age, we were a lifeline about what was going on, what was coming up, lifestyle tips, and more. I know we bridged a lot of loneliness. And those were the days when so many of us listened to late night KOMA-AM out of Oklahoma City, 1000 miles away. Here we were a town of 10,000 on the wind-blown Wyoming desert and we could call in our requests and be heard all over the Northwest, West, Southwest. I really understood that communications technology could easily bridge the miles and create a feeling of inclusion and intimacy.”
“What took you so long, then, to get your ‘Detective of Magic’ show going and creating buzz all over the world? Do you regret the detour you took into the convent for 27 years?”
Shirley smiles her answer. “No regrets ever,” she assures me. “Everything all along the way got me farther on the path, as it does for anyone if they’ll only frame it that way.”
She recounts how her leaving Rock Springs the August after high school graduation to become a Catholic Sister of Charity of Leavenworth actually opened a lot of doors. “Back in 1963 nuns didn’t watch TV except on special occasions and we certainly didn’t listen to radio or go to movies. But I was teaching English and religion to high school sophomores in Topeka, KS and I knew I had to get on their wave-length to be effective. I got permission from the convent Superior to buy a small transistor radio so I could listen to what the kids were listening to, and use those references to bring home points I wanted to make or even make poetry classes palatable,” she winks. “Then I went to the Topeka public schools to make a deal– borrowing early black-and-white video cameras and recorders to tape plays, interviews, and more with my students. I expanded my photography and journalism skills, created slide presentations, learned to play the guitar, you name it. In summers I earned a Master of Fine Arts and was even chosen–because of my work in film class–as one of two student directors honored to choose a play and direct it at the Bread Loaf School of English in Middlebury, VT, made famous by poet Robert Frost. I created a modern day Garden of Eden, with Adam as a traveling salesman, Eve an alcoholic, Cain a meat eater, and Abel a vegetarian at a backyard cookout. Imagine! Then the Archbishop of Kansas City in Kansas hired me to head up a new media office and sent me to the Catholic Radio and TV Centre in London to train with BBC personnel in radio and TV production. I had colleagues from India, Brazil, Spain, Viet Nam, Cambodia, the Sudan, Nigeria, Italy, England, and Ireland. What an educations in all ways! Back in Kanas City I helped birth ECUMEDIA of Kansas City, an interfaith media coalition, and created for them radio and TV commercials, produced years of cable TV interviews, and televised live events with crews I trained.”
“You did all that as a nun?” I asked, stunned.
“Well, yes. You remember that the Vatican II world-wide conclave of bishops brought the Church into modern times in the mid-60s. In phase I we nuns replaced our 16th century long-skirted habits and all-covering veils with conservative contemporary skirts and tops and whispy veils over hair that showed again. We went back to our birth names. We were mandated to be in among the people, to be of service. In phase II we went to wearing street clothes. So when I went off to graduate school and then to London, I blended in, and found out how often people talk about the deeper and often painful questions of life with friends in bars and parties and long into the night where nuns hadn’t been. I learned to be present and helpful in ways I couldn’t be in the stand-offish religious garb.”
Shirley then recounts a painful detour, and how her life changed with a phone call from her brother Don who had moved their folks from Rock Springs to Winston-Salem, NC with him. His medical research career was taking him and his family to Indiana and Cy and Julie were too ill to move with them. Shirley left the convent and moved across country for what turned out to be 14 years of full-time caregiving. During her 48-hour-days Shirley strapped on an audio player and listened constantly to loans from Nightingale Conant Corporation and the local library. She learned business skills, studied the workings of the mind, and explored other spiritual beliefs and systems.
“It was during that time that I started to see how I could continue to help humankind in the future with all the skills I’d honed as a teacher, researcher, journalist, and community builder. I became intrigued with what I was learning about hidden toxins in us, on us, and around us, and agreed to try products from a green company called Shaklee Corporation in exchange for listening to 21 audios. The health and energy of my dying mom and myself improved dramatically in just 10 days. We couldn’t believe it! I got back 4 hours of energy a day, I swear. Mom got out of bed. I researched the company extensively and couldn’t find anything wrong and found lots that was exceptional, so I signed up to be distributor to afford more products. Then I worked with my mom’s doctors over the next four months to wean her off all 11 medications and onto a nutritional therapy trial along with using Shaklee’s safe cleaners, water and air purifiers, healthy fast food, clean skin care and daily care. Mom never went back on the meds. People were amazed that I was laughing again and that mom was up and about and glowing with health again and asked me to get them the ‘same stuff.’ That’s how my business began and grew, earning me cars, cash, and travel.”
Shirley quickly chronicles another detour 10 years later as her mom suffered a fatal stroke. During the time that she was reclaiming her life after years of caregiving exhaustion, Shirley and her Prius were rear-ended in a freak accident that resulted in physical and financial wipe-out when the woman’s insurance refused to pay for the additional years of concussion recovery needed. While she was able to keep her business going with online ordering and a loyal customer base, for years she had to spend so many hours a day sleeping that she could accomplish very little. Luckily her friends were there for her and her brother and sister stepped in with financial support. As her business partner, her sister also upped numerous other supports she could provide from half a continent away. Shirley’s local business networking group (BNI) helped with referrals. Her Shaklee community across the U.S. and Canada rallied to help by paying for classes and individual coaching in a Computer Coaching with Koritnik online classroom. Those were very tough years.
“Then everything dramatically changed in late summer 2020, which you’ll remember as the year from hell with COVID, sequestering at home, volatile politics, and all the hurricanes and fires. I called to support a friend who seemed unusually quiet on a zoom session, worried about her. In the conversation she asked me if I had signed up for the COLOR CODE project or the Master Key Experience, since she knew that I had been on the Januszewskis’ email list. Give a kindness, get a kindness! I wouldn’t have read those announcements had she not encouraged me. I simply clicked two links in the emails and the rest clicked into place.”
“It can’t have been that easy,” I mused. “Two clicks?”
“Yes, a little more,” she laughs. “For six months I steeped myself in the reading, the classes, the extensive reading, the exercises, the thinking. I worked daily with my guide and the Master Mind group studying with me from all over the world. Mark, Davene, and their team are amazing–absolutely on fire with what they have learned about the workings of the mind and the real power behind the Law of Attraction which so many people misunderstand. They walk their talk, and testimonies from other Master Mind groups for years in a row share testimonies of ‘miracles’ and ‘magic’ that happens seemingly effortlessly when we work with the Laws of how the mind really works. It really IS mind over matter.”
“So you did this intensive and suddenly you became the Detective of Magic?”
She laughs again heartily. “Oh, Julia. Your questions are so good–and I guess I implied that, didn’t I? What I can tell you is that during that intensive I kept writing and rewriting what Napoleon Hill in THINK AND GROW RICH called the “Definite Major Purpose,” if you’re familiar with that phrase. It took a whole lot of internal work to find out what that was for me. I often despaired. And I mean OFTEN! I was being asked ‘What aren’t you telling yourself?’ I didn’t think anything was hidden. That’s because most of us early on ‘settle.’ We have big dreams and then the money doesn’t seem to flow and we acquire responsibilities and debts and expectations from other people in our lives. We work hard, get tired, stop taking care of the physical side of us that needs more sleep and activity and better food than the junk we eat. The years go by. We fall asleep watching TV or Netflix. We don’t stimulate our brains. We don’t let art from our contemporaries challenge us. We do our jobs well enough to get by. We find laughter and fun and fulfillment where we can. That was me, too. I let myself absorb the blows of caregiving and a car accident and settled for getting by with a gray life, even though it was a seemingly great life. Until my wake up call. And then I just couldn’t put up with settling any longer.”
“So I guess you found out what you were hiding from yourself?”
“Yes. And here’s what happened. In a week when we were reading all about imagination and sitting still and thinking about what they suggested, I was told to go back to when we were kids and tell ourselves in kid language what fires us up, what was fun and exciting. I started remembering myself at 4 and 5. We had a little cubby outside the kitchen and I’d created my own little world out there with my dolls and playthings. I had an amazing imagination! Every day I’d be a different fairy tale character–back then it was Snow White, Peter Pan, Cinderella and more. What intrigued me the most was the MAGIC they all had in their daily lives. I wanted MAGIC! I even thought I might get it by sticking bobby pins into the electrical outlets because I loved the zingy feeling doing that gave me till my parents nixed that big time! So instead I started playing what I called my ‘I am’ game where I would know I wasn’t any of those characters and would repeat ‘I am’ over and over till the realization of bare consciousness sent shivers down my spine, different but like the light socket! Yeah. I found THAT Shirley again. And that Shirley wanted to find out and tell everyone about MAGIC in our lives. I combined that with my teenage passion for radio and all the media training along the way and put it out to the Universe that I was ready to host and produce an international radio show using my natural detective skills to interview magic-makers from all cultures, all countries, and all strata of society. It caught on big time, as you know. The way had been prepared 10-20 years before that with Dungeons and Dragons, the Harry Potter franchise, lots of fiction in novels, video, comic books and more all over the world. Everyone wanted a super power. Everyone wanted a magic wand.”
“I see that you funnel people who are willing to take on the challenge into the same Master Key Experience and Walking Tall COLOR CODE programs you made your breakthrough in.”
“Yes! They are the best in their training and graduates of the program from all over the world are proof that learning to apply the laws of the mind leads to real-life magic,” Shirley agrees. “But not everyone I interview even knows about those programs. Lots of my guests are graduates, of course. Others come to me because they have God-given magical powers or have figured out through their culture or handed-down tradition how to bring magic to life. Every single person has been vetted ahead of time by being connected to someone or someones who work magic themselves authentically or who allow authentic magic into their lives.”
“I’m looking at the time, and I know that you’re needing to catch a plane after what you told me has been an absolutely remarkable and ‘magical time’–your words!–getting to know Rock Springs again and being with family and friends and even those in their 90s who still remember that 5 year old Shirley! I’ll bet conversations with THEM was especially fascinating. Shirley, I know I speak for the community in wishing a home town kid our sincere admiration and thanks for being true to what you learned first right down there on North Front Street and using it to enrich the lives of so many across the world. Thanks so much for stopping by to talk with me and let us know what you’ve been up to these past 85 years! I know the readers of our paper love hearing what you told me.”
“Oh, Julia. It has been wonderful connecting with you again and letting everyone know ‘the rest of the story.’ You’ve been marvelous to talk with. Thanks so very much!”