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Having the Right Tools

Updated: Nov 27, 2019

I'm a relatively new homeowner, and I still feel somewhat blindsided when something happens around the house that I never had to worry about in apartments.

Last week the dryer broke. I was super busy, but still determined to fix the thing myself. After a little bit of searching on YouTube, I found what was probably the answer: replace the heating element. Since the power and the spin function still worked, and the dryer just was wasn't heating up, that seemed the most logical conclusion.

A replacement part wasn't expensive at all, so I ordered it. Meanwhile, the laundry piled up ominously.

When the part came, I wrestled the unit out of its little alcove and started taking of the back panel. Even this felt like a big risk--am I doing something I can't undo? It seems silly now, but when you'e never taken a large appliance apart before, the first time feels pretty sketchy.

But all in all, it was an easy chore. Plugged the thing back in and started a cycle. No dice. No heat. Turned out the internal thermostat could also be the problem in this case, so I ordered up those parts and did the whole routine again.

That did the trick, and the heat came back on like it's supposed to. I started on the mountain of accumulated laundry, only to realize with the first load that, despite the heat, the clothes weren't drying.

The vent. I realized I'd never paid much attention to it. I found the outer exhaust and discovered air wasn't going through. I needed a brush set with extenders to clean out the pipe, and an attachment for my shop vac to blow out the blockage. The big box store had everything I needed, and the guy there informed me that the pipe blockage was probably the culprit behind the whole ordeal. Since air wasn't getting out, the dryer was forced to overwork itself, which can overheat the dryer and even be a fire hazard.

Getting several massive clumps of lint out of the pipes set everything right again. It had been necessary to change the dryer's sensors, but that didn't change the need to address the underlying problem, which had been building for months in the unseen parts of my house. And doing that required its own specific set of tools.

Acquiring the needed tools not only got my laundry room up and running again, it also ensures that if the same thing happens down the road--to me or a neighbor--I'll know just what to do

What's Building Up in Your House?

As we move through life we pick up all kinds of things: jokes, lessons, friends, habits, wounds--stories. We fill up with them just as a house fills up with photos and knick-knacks. Slowly these things shape us and how we experience life. Most of it happens in the crawlspace of our minds, intimately involved yet unseen.

Then one day we find ourselves on the brink of ruining a relationship we once cherished, or beholden to patterns we can't master. Like my cold, spinning dryer, the mental, emotional, and relational issues we face are multilayered and have to be addressed on each level. And there's always a root cause way down in the deep places, where we never think to look.

Do you have the tools you need to change how you approach relationships? To process betrayal, disappointment, and grief? To reorder your thought life so that it's helping you and not hindering you?

Very few of us are launched into this world with the deluxe toolbox, but that is what therapists like myself specialize in and take joy in making our vocational purpose.

Reclaiming your story isn't about venting your junk and reposting self-esteem memes. It's hard, deliberate, focused work that tailors itself to your unique personality and purpose. It's about discovering what you can actually do to get your life back.

You're not just depressed, just unlucky, just anything. You were made to live a story that will bring you to life, and the world needs more of that.


Mike Ensley, MA, LPCC is a nationally board-certified professional counselor in Loveland, Colorado.



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