On August 11, 2012 my Dad, Brian Klepinger, died unexpectedly. He decided to have some elective surgery and ended up with a major infection that ultimately shut down all of his vital organs. You never know what is going to happen in life, unless of course, if you are psychic…

The last time I talked to my dad was just less than a month before he died. It was mid July and my daughter and I were preparing to leave on a two-week trip to Europe to celebrate her high school graduation. He called me from his home in Colorado to wish us well and to let me know that he had decided to have this surgery while I’d be out of the country. I immediately had a bad feeling. I questioned him on the necessity of the surgery and if he was clear about the potential complications.

He explained that yes he felt the surgery was necessary. He loved to travel around the world and especially to remote out of the way places. Earlier in the year he narrowly escaped having a debilitating diverticulitis attack in the middle of some South American jungle. Fortunately the pain began just a day before he was to leave, so he ended up missing the trip and opting for an extended hospital stay.

He also assured me that any complications were minor and that there was nothing to be worried about. I continued to pepper him with questions and he seemed to have an answer for every one of them. Finally I told him that I hoped that it would turn out the way he had hoped and that I’d be really mad if he died while I was out of the country.

He was true to his word – he didn’t die while I was out of the country, he waited 9 days until after I returned. I called him the day I arrived back in the US and his 3rd wife told me he was home, asleep on the couch and needed his rest. She’d have him call me over the weekend. He didn’t call. By Monday he was experiencing severe pain and was readmitted to the hospital. I flew out as soon as I could and by the time I arrived in Denver on Wednesday morning, he was intubated and unconscious.

I am continually amazed at how unaware I am of what I’m aware of – I had a really bad feeling about the surgery and even though I tried to impress that upon my Dad, I never came out and said, “You are going to die.” Frankly I don’t know if that is what I should have done or if it’s even my right to say something like that to someone. Ultimately, it’s all about free will and free choice.

In my book, which is being released this summer, Art of Living Happy, I talk about the experience of him passing over:

Within 15 minutes the nurses had prepared him by removing his breathing tubes and the IV’s. We stepped into the cubicle. His wife and I each held one of his hands and my brother put his hand on my dad’s leg. I closed my eyes and immediately got a picture in my mind of what was happening. I explained what I was seeing to them.

“I see him above us, smiling. He wants us to know that he loves us and that he’s sorry for everything that happened. He loves you so much and wants to thank you for taking such good care of him.” I directed this toward his wife. “And Eric, he is telling you that he is proud of you and me too. I see a great light and he’s moving toward it. I see him reuniting with Grandma and Grandpa. It’s such a beautiful sight. The feeling of love is overwhelming.” Tears were streaming down my face, not from sadness but from joy – the joy of seeing him transition and entering the kingdom of love.

No matter how many issues you have with someone, death seems to melt them away. I found that my feelings of loss overwhelmed all of the other feelings that I had felt for my father throughout my life. I felt at peace with my father, maybe for the first time.

That was true until two days later when we arrived at the attorney’s office…

Yes, going to the attorney’s office changed everything. I was faced with more life lessons in which I discovered a lot more about myself. Including the fact that I do have a dark side, a very dark side.

Meanwhile my dad has been coming to me in various ways:

He came through as a vision to one of my clients, while we were in the middle of a healing session.

He showed himself to a friend of mine in her dream. She visualized my house and saw him sitting on the couch. A month later she came to my home for a dinner party and was shocked as my house was exactly what she saw in her dream – she had never been here before.

During a recent training weekend, my mentor channeled a message from him to me. Everyone else got messages from Buddha, Jesus and other ascended masters – thanks Dad!

He’s contacted me twice through a well-known medium, Roland Comtois, at two different events where only a handful of people were given messages.

He’s come through to my brother’s girlfriend in a healing session she had with a gifted energy healer.

He’s woken me up and had me write 2 pages of channeled information.

Not to mention, he’s always leaving me signs – usually in the form of cigarette smoke or white butterflies whenever I happen to be thinking of him.

Needless to say, he is making up for lost time. I’m glad that he has finally seen the light and that he is reaching out to me since his passing. I just wish he had been more open in this lifetime, so we could have healed our issues as we went rather than trying to do it all now.

This is another reason why I wrote my book, Art of Living Happy. I’m hoping it will inspire people to wake up and deal with their issues before they die. It’s so important to connect truthfully and openly with your loved ones on every level while you are alive and able to do so. I also know how difficult it is to discuss estate planning and what will happen when your loved ones dies, but let me tell you, it’s much easier to have some heated discussions now rather than to be left with a potential bomb that could blow your world up – like mine was. Don’t wait – we are all going to die, so get your affairs in order, or if you have parents, bring up the subject and sort out the issues so that everyone can be happy.

How about you? Have you had a bombshell explode after the death of a loved one? Have you been contacted by a loved one who has passed over? Are you looking to connect to your loved ones? Are you stuck or need help moving forward? Leave me your comments – I love discussing these issues.

Love and Blessings, ~Lisa

Part 4 – The Hate Story (2 of 2)

Ultimately, GE moved us back to Ridgefield in 2001.   In 2002 Ian was re-diagnose and I knew intuitively that we were going to have a bad ending.    Thankfully I was heavily involved at the Episcopalian church when the re-diagnosis came down.   The community that surrounded me was uplifting, loving and very helpful.  The parish organized a dinner drop off at our house and overall could not have been more supportive.
Unfortunately however, our community was undergoing a change in leadership.  Our amazing assistant priest had moved on to lead her own church, so we had to hire a new junior minister.    And our rock solid devoted senior priest of many, many years was on the verge of retiring – and did leave before Ian died.  Needless to say there was a lot of turbulence within our church community during Ian’s final 18 months of life.  Since my husband was not involved in the church – he was a skeptic until the end – these issues were not a problem for him, but for me they were of great concern.

Since the main priest was going on vacation, just after we got the dreadful news of Ian’s cancer returning, he encouraged me to set up some counseling sessions with our new assistant minister – I’ll refer to him as “D”.   I gave D a call, and he suggested that we go out for lunch.  I thought this was quite a strange place to have a therapy session, however; I was in no position to disagree – he was a priest, for God’s sake.  I was also desperate for some guidance, advice and a spiritual connection.  I stopped by the church on the appointed day and time.  D told me I’d have to drive as he walked to work everyday – so his wife could have the car.

Before we even got into the car, things were feeling very strange for me.  It only got worse from that point!  We arrived at the restaurant, sat down for lunch and he ordered a bottle of wine!  What?  Really?  A bottle of wine?  Yes, a bottle of wine.  In my gut I knew this was wrong.  I felt uncomfortable and trapped and yet in shock.  It was like I was stuck in that locker again, when I was six years old.  (Check out my blog: Part 1 – The Love Story (1 of 2))  The lunch continued as he talked about all sorts of crazy things including; his drug use, past girlfriends, asking me about my husband’s and my sex life and that I was most likely using poor parenting techniques with my children.  There was however, NO discussion of my husband being sick, and how I could best handle this really hard situation.  Thinking back, maybe he was on drugs during that lunch.  It was beyond bizarre.  We drove back to the church and I dropped him off.

A few days later I stopped by the church to help the bookkeeper sort out some accounting issues.  D was in his office.  He called me in and asked when we could have another “session.”  I told him that I didn’t know (I had no intention of meeting with him again, but with him being a priest and all, I didn’t want to be rude!)  I started backing out of his office explaining that I had to run to the grocery store.  I turned to go and he grabbed his coat and said, “I’ll join you.”  The next thing you know he’s in my car and we’re driving to Stop and Shop.

Once again, he behaved very strangely, picking up the phone at the meat counter and pretending to talk to God and doing lewd things with the sausages in the deli department.  We ran into a few people who attend the church, which was very awkward.  I tried to get my shopping done as quickly as possible so I could get him back and get on with my life.  We drove back to the church.  As I pulled up to the door and said, “OK, bye.”  He leaned over and planted a big kiss right on my lips!  I was horrified and disgusted.  And yet, because he was a minister and had “power” I squelched my feelings and pretended like nothing happened.

Over the next few weeks he began staring at me while he was giving his sermons.  I thought I was going crazy.  He also kept calling the house to set up more appointments.  The whole experience was awful and I didn’t know what to do.  I had a sick husband at home, and my priest was coming on to me.  I finally told the rector what was happening – he dismissed it and told me I wasn’t thinking straight – ok.  With the help of my therapist, I took the matter to the diocese and they were very helpful and validated that his behavior was inappropriate and out of line.

Ultimately “D” was sent to another church as it was discovered he was double billing his expense sheets.  It’s not enough that he was trying to make out with one of the parishioners; it took the accounting department catching him with fraud before the church was willing to do anything…  so what do they do?  Move him to another church!  I’m sure the new church wasn’t told about his indiscretions and that most likely this man tormented another poor, vulnerable, soul at his new place of employment.  Once again, gotta love organized religion!!!

Ian - Christmas before his death in February

The nail in the coffin, for my organized religion days, was the morning that Ian died in our house.  Our wonderful long-term rector had retired and moved to New Orleans just months prior to Ian’s death, so the interim pastor was sent over to my home to console me.  In comes Pastor Joe, his first words to me were, “So sorry to hear about your husband.”  The second words he said to me,  “I’m retiring soon, where do you think I should donate my expansive library of books?”  I was flabbergasted.  Then he came in, sat down and told me that it was his birthday and all about his plans for the day.  My husband had died eight hours earlier – right in that house that we were sitting in – and the priest that came to my door wanted to chit-chat!  That was the final straw for the church and me.

The night my husband died I had an experience that opened my mind to knowing that you do not need to be involved with organized religion to have a close and personal relationship with God, the Creator, the Universe, Source Energy – whatever you want to call it.  My relationship with the Creator is so much more bold and deep and precious than it ever was when I was attending an organized church.  I would love to read your comments about your experiences with religion.  I am certainly not claiming to have all the answers; I’m just trying to open your mind to viewing things in a different way and to let you know that your connection to God is ALWAYS there; it’s the connections with people that claim to be connected to God that you need to question.

Part 3 – The Love Story (2 of 2)

At the age of 19 I turned away from the church, as my father did earlier in my life.   I didn’t need it anyway – I was a college student and having way too much fun.   Going to church, attending services and having that community was just not my priority, especially after having the “Pastor Peter” episode in my life.   I was on the go, attending classes at the University of Denver, working as a waitress at Pour la France and in my spare time hanging out at keg parties.

My thoughts on religion changed dramatically after the birth of my first child, Jenna , (I was 27) and she was born with severe internal birth defects.   I’ll save those details for another time…  Suddenly I felt that religion was a necessary foundation for my children’s upbringing.   I started attending the Episcopal Church in Avon, CT in 1995.

I was drawn to the Episcopal Church, as Ian and I were married in one – not because we were Episcopalians but because it was the only venue available near Moraga, CA on the date we were married – June 21, 1992.   My uncle, from Vermont, happened to be an Episcopalian priest so he flew to California to perform the ceremony – it was beautiful!
Two weeks after the wedding, Ian was transferred to Washington, DC.  It was quite an adventure being newly weds in a brand new city!  Ian’s father, Bob, came to visit us Labor Day weekend 1992.  The three of us drove into DC from our rented house in Reston, VA.  I walked to Ernst & Young for a job interview, Ian went to the Price Waterhouse office and Bob walked to the Washington Monument.  He then boarded a tram to Arlington National Cemetery and swiftly had a massive heart attack.  He was DOA at the hospital.  I got the job at Ernst & Young and promptly requested a week off to help Ian bury his dad in California.

Avon, CT

After 18 months of living in Virginia and working in Washington DC as well as the birth of our first born child, Ian was transferred to work for Price Waterhouse in the Hartford, CT office.  We moved to Avon, CT (a suburb of Hartford) – where our second child, Robbie, was born in 1995.

In April of 1996 Ian took a job with GE, so we moved from Avon to Ridgefield, CT.   I was eager to meet new friends so I jumped right in and got involved with the local Episcopalian church.   I LOVED it!!!  I even went so far as being received, which means I formerly left the Lutheran Church and declared my devotion to the Episcopalian church.   Both of the children were baptized at St. Stephen’s.   I taught Sunday school, volunteered my time on different committees, and eventually became the assistant treasurer on the vestry.

Catoonah, CT

Everything was going quite well, until my husband became sick.   Ian was diagnosed with lymphoma cancer in the spring of 1997.   He had a bone marrow transplant, at Sloan-Kettering Hospital in NYC.   While he was undergoing this month long procedure, GE promoted Ian to a company Tax Director, his life long ambition – the problem – the position was located in Cincinnati, Ohio!  I didn’t know if he was going to live or die, and I had to put our home in Connecticut on the market and fly to Ohio to buy a new house.   Ian lost 80 pounds and when he showed up for work in Cincinnati – they didn’t even recognize him.

Two weeks after we arrived, as I had just unpacked the final boxes and started to get Jenna (4) and Robbie (2) settled into a new routine – Ian came home and told me that the GE company he was working for was closing down!  We had to move AGAIN in less than 8 months!  We made the best of it and moved to Moorestown, NJ.   We were there for less than 18 months when that GE company was shut down too!  We had to move again – back to Ridgefield, CT.

At least I had my faith and my church to get through these terribly hard times!

Part 2 – The Hate Story (1 of 2)

Another interesting time in my life in regard to religion was when my mother remarried a former Lutheran pastor.  (I was about 12)  Larry had quite the colorful past.  He was a theater design teacher, a fund raiser for not-for-profits and a former pastor – I’m not sure of what order all that occurred.  I do know that he married young, had 4 kids and then decided to run off with one of his students and then ultimately divorced her.  He met my mother while working at a Lutheran adoption organization.  Wow, now that I’m an adult – this is all pretty sketchy!!!

My Angels

His past history of a pastor ramped up our church attendance level as a family.  We moved from Colorado to Wisconsin.  A year later we moved to Minnesota.  Larry was trying to find himself – again.  He went back to school to learn about television production and was working on getting a job in that field, which never panned out…  Years later, he went back to preaching, which ended the marriage to my mother as he not only found God again, but also found his secretary to be more to his liking.

During this time, I went through the confirmation process at the Lutheran church we were attending in Minnesota.  Our youth minister, Pastor Peter, was in his mid thirties, married with two adorable kids, very personable and yet kind of a nerd.  He was a real pied piper with the youth of the Church as we followed him around as he introduced us to an assortment of church activities, including Clowning for Christ – which was a ton of fun, we would act out parables as clowns for Sunday morning services.  He also organized a bus trip to the Lutheran Youth Convention in San Antonio, Texas.  We had such a great time!

Well, long story short it turns out he molested several girls from my confirmation class.  I didn’t know it at the time, but in retrospect he made a few moves on me.  I remember he would give me a big hug and his hand would reach just far enough around to feel the sides of my breasts, so disturbing!  He once took me into the basement to have a “talk” with me – things got real creepy when he turned off the lights.  He told me he wanted his daughter to grow up to be just like me.  Then he asked me if I was dating anyone.  I couldn’t stand it.  I told him I had to leave – thank God he didn’t try to stop me.

Ironically, when our youth group was in San Antonio, Texas at the Lutheran Youth Convention, Peter had gotten an extra hotel room for us to have our group meetings.  When my friends and I were out walking around the beautiful Riverwalk we wondering where one of the girls was.  I said, “She must be up in the extra room with Peter, having sex.”  That got a huge laugh – well guess what – they were having sex.  This is an example of “knowing the truth”, of listening to your intuition,  but joking about it because it is just too unbelievable.  My heart breaks for the young girls at my church who were vulnerable, who were having problems with their parents or boyfriends as they ultimately succumbed to Peter’s hideous behavior.  It wasn’t there fault!  He was the adult, the minister, and the married husband with two kids!  What a bastard!!!

My mother called me my freshman year at college to tell me the news.  I remember being in complete denial.  How could the man who taught me the Ten Commandments, the morals and ethics of the church also be doing such hideous things to my friends?  Initially, I defended him.  It just shows you how deeply you can become attached to people in authority and not even believe the truth. He had admitted it and I still had a hard time believing that he did this.  Peter was removed as a youth minister, put into counseling and re-located to a different position in a new church. What a great way for the church to handle things.  In fact that is how Pastor Peter, ended up at our church.  He had molested girls at the prior church and instead of turning him into the authorities, they moved him to our church so he could prey on more young girls.  How disgraceful.  Gotta love organized religion!

Part 1 – The Love Story (1 of 2)

Religion is one of those topics that you aren’t supposed to bring up at the dinner table. I myself have had a love-hate relationship with religion throughout my life.  As a baby I was baptized in the Lutheran Church on Christmas day in 1966.  In my early years, we attended church quite regularly.  One occasion that stands out in my mind occurred when I was about six years old.  I attended a Sunday school event with my friend, Margaret, at her Baptist church. Margaret had long dark brown hair with bangs cut straight across her forehead and was one of my best friends in first grade.  I remember being invited to attend with her by her parents and that it was a lot of fun – almost a carnival type atmosphere.  The speaker, most likely the minister, told us that if we ever had any problems all we had to do was pray to God and he would be there to help us. Fortunately for me, this advice came in handy just a few weeks later.

My mom dropped me off at a YMCA day camp.  While I was there one of the teenage boy camp counselors thought it would be fun to bounce a rubber ball, like a dodge ball, off the top of my head.  He did this over, and over and over and I did not like it!  I became very afraid of him, and went running into the YMCA building.  He chased after me as I made a dash into the ladies locker room.  I thought he was going to continue to follow me, so I did what any reasonable person would do and jumped into a locker and closed the door behind me.  Originally I thought this was a fabulous hiding place, but soon realized that I couldn’t get out!  I started to panic and then began kicking the door as best I could with my right foot.  Eventually, I was able to push my foot out between the door and the side of the locker.  Unfortunately however, the door at the top of the frame would not release – I was in a near panic.  Then I recalled the magical words, which were told to us by the Baptist minister, “Whenever you are in trouble, pray to God and he will help you.” So I stopped screaming and crying, bowed my head, put my hands into a prayer position and asked God to, “please help me.”  In that moment of calm I looked down and noticed a metal rod positioned at the bottom of the locker.  I gently reached down with my left finger, and push the rod up. The door burst open.  I was free.  At that moment, I believed in God.

Young Lisa

That was quite an event for six-year-old child.  It made me a true believer out of me, and I started reading the Bible every night, as I was preparing to go to sleep, I would flip through my Bible and place my finger on a random Bible verse.  I was convinced that every verse I read had true meaning for me for that day.  Sometimes I wondered what it meant when my finger landed on the verses that referred to a whole litany of people begetting one another.  I didn’t quite know how this related to my day, but somehow I always manage to make sense of it – or I would just randomly choose a new verse – I figured my finger just landed in the wrong spot…

A few years later my parents divorced. We stopped going to church altogether.  My father turned his back on God – he was raised in a conservative Methodist family and decided he had had enough of religion – and has never looked back.  I however, kept asking my mom to take me to church.  I was 10 years old, and would be dropped off at the local community Church to sit in the Sunday service and go to Sunday school.  I went as often as my mother would take me.

Okay, so here’s the problem… I’ve asked you to join me on this amazing path for happy living, that I am on.  That’s not the problem.  The issue I’m having is the fact that the terminology that is “out” there surrounding my path is not to my liking.  In fact it makes me very uncomfortable.  I guess this is why it has taken me 43 years to even mention this path to you…

Let me throw out some definitions:

Religion – re·li·gion (noun) 1. Beliefs and worship; people’s beliefs and opinions concerning the existence, nature, and worship of a deity or deities, and divine involvement in the universe and human life 2. System; an institutionalized or personal system of beliefs and practices relating to the divine

Spiritual – spir·i·tu·al (adjective) 1.  Of soul; relating to the soul or spirit, usually in contrast to material things 2. Of religion; relating to religious or sacred things rather than worldly things

This is actually quite interesting.  I was prepared to say terrible things about the word, “religion”.  Now, after actually looking up the word, using the Word reference tool, I have to say that I’m quite stunned.  Religion to me, is equivalent to the evil Church – I used a capital “C” to refer to all organized religions.  I personally, have a real problem with the man-made structured institutions, with all the rules – you can’t eat meat on Fridays, you can’t mix meat and milk, women aren’t allowed to fully participate, you must tithe – really?  Who says?  The bible?  Really?  My understanding of the bible is that it was written a very long time ago and translated over, and over and into different languages and that huge parts of this sacred document were deleted or changed.  Is this truly what these organizations are basing their beliefs on?  Oh, and don’t even get me started on the Catholic Church!  I will say, that organized religion is beneficial in that it creates a community of like mined people.  I do miss that in my own life, as I have been unable to locate a “church” that fills me up spiritually as well as provides me with a sense of community.

The fact that the definition of “religious” actually means its about “people’s beliefs and opinions concerning the existence, nature, and worship of a deity or deities, and divine involvement in the universe and human life” is actually quite comforting to me.  I would have thought that this definition belonged to spirituality.  Which brings me to the word “spiritual”.  Again, the definition, as listed per the dictionary, is not exactly what I thought it meant.  The word “spiritual” to me means being open to the idea that something greater than us is at work.  I know, based on numerous events, that there is a greater power out there.  I like to refer to this power as God.  At times I will interchange the word God, with “The Universe”, “Source Energy” or even the “Divine Power”.

I know, I’ve made you uncomfortable – don’t worry so am I. I am Lisa Jones – join me on the road less traveled to happy living.  It only gets better – I guarantee it!