How to Regain Motivation After Murphy Hits Like a Hurricane

Jen SmithDebt, Personal Finance16 Comments

Hurricane Irma Fallen Tree

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Hurricane Irma hit us hard last week. I’m still adjusting to the destruction she left in her wake and the personal assault she made on my house.

You can never prepare perfectly for a hurricane. Meteorologists hype up a storm for a week but you really only have a few hours notice on where it’s going to go. First, we thought it was going into the Atlantic, then the gulf, then right up the state. The day before Irma hit we woke up to reports that the eye was heading straight for our city.

Hurricane Irma Fallen Tree

Our house boarded up before we left

We evacuated to Atlanta at the last minute. I thought I was overreacting but the idea of sitting in a house with no power while the biggest bay area storm in 100 years raged outside was enough to get me in the car.

We spent three days in Atlanta watching CNN and Fox news and rolling our eyes at their coverage. To Floridians, they all looked like idiots. We checked Facebook to make sure our friends were ok, and we spent time with friends we don’t get to see often.

We came home to our giant Norfolk pine on our house. It snapped in just the right place to do minimal damage for its size. But it did just enough damage to be annoying. Our fence is broken in a few places and tree guys crushed our walkway driving up on the lawn, but the inside of the house was untouched.

Hurricane Irma Fallen Tree

Our norfolk pine after hurricane irma

We were one of the first blocks to lose power and one of the last to get it back. When we got home we stayed with friends for three more days while we rejoin normal life. When the power finally came back on it was all I could do to wash dishes, do laundry, replace everything in the fridge and make my house livable again.

So I finally feel like we’re back. I’m sitting at my desk instead of searching for a coffee shop with Wifi or an open seat at one that does. My fridge is full again and I have one more load of laundry to fold (but that’s normal.) There 60 feet of pine logs in my front yard and its root system is breaking out of the ground, but I feel normal.

There are trees all over St. Petersburg that look like they’ve been pulled out of the ground like weeds and dropped on their sides. And I’ve been thinking, “How do people bounce back from this?”

Hurricane Irma Fallen Tree

current state of our yard

Murphy doesn’t stop because you’re trying to make your life better; he actually pops up more. And it can be so demotivating to regain momentum that it’s easy to give up. And no one would blame you.

But in the depths of my wallowing and self-pity from feeling homeless last week I realized a few things for myself that helped me get back to normal. I hope they’ll help you when you need them.

Hurricane Irma Fallen Tree

Hurricane Irma aftermath


I love schedules and to-do lists. I meal plan, grocery shop, workout, and write at pretty much the same time every week. When I could do any of those things I felt lost.

Even if my routine was messed up I found making a list and slowly working down it helped me get back on track. I was nowhere near as productive as I normally am but it was like practicing real life again.


I treated myself to a few lunches and coffees without feeling bad. Granted the grocery stores were still bare, I had no coffee maker and little fridge space at our friend’s house.

While there are still a million things I need to catch up on I know that taking care of my mind will make my work better. And if you’re going to indulge, this is the time to do it.

Emergency Fund

Our insurance deductible for hurricanes is less than what we’ve been putting towards debt so I’m confident we can handle this without dipping into our fund. But that extra $1000 would make a WORLD of difference if we hadn’t just come out of high gear. It’s that security blanket that keeps me from making desperate decisions out of fear.

For my friends who feel like they’re struggling to get out of baby step 1, don’t be discouraged. It’s worth it to keep pushing. Two steps forward and one step back is still a forward direction.

One day Murphy will come to visit (If you’re doing anything productive with your life you can expect him sooner) and you’ll be ready. It won’t make it any easier but you move through it, acknowledge the suckiness, and do your best to help people who are not far behind on the journey.

Love you guys, and thanks for all the kind words on Instagram and Facebook. Y’all are very special to me. If you’re looking for ways to help people affected by Hurricane Irma, I recommend these organizations in the hardest hit places:

Catholic Relief Services in the Caribbean
Metropolitan Ministries in Pasco County, Florida
Bridge to Hope in the Florida Keys and statewide

When Murphy derails your debt payoff momentum it can be hard to regain momentum but these are some great tips to get back on track with your budget!

16 Comments on “How to Regain Motivation After Murphy Hits Like a Hurricane”

  1. Oh man – despite the annoyance you guys got pretty lucky!! So glad you went through with evacuating. Having a tree land on your house would have been terrorizing had you still been in it. Hopefully it doesn’t take too long to fully recover and it seems you are already on the right path (I love lists too!). As for the front yard, at least you have a story to tell!! 😉

    1. We are thankful! And I’m glad we left too, despite the 13 hours of stop-and-go traffic reentering Florida.

  2. OMG the photos ot the three coming out of the ground (dk how to explain, one of the last ones) looks terryfing, luckly you got minor demage! Stay strong, sending lots of prayiers your way 😀 Would you mind check out my page? We can follow each other and be internet friends if you want to. I’d be so happy!
    Love, Mimi

  3. So glad you’re ok and made it through with not a lot of damage.

    I live in a newer neighborhood in southern Hillsborough County and thankfully all our trees are new and able to bend in the wind. So my neighborhood was able to make it through with little to no damage.

  4. Im so sorry for everything you’ve gone through. I can’t believe your house wasn’t damaged from the tree! And that you only have one load of laundry waiting to be folded makes you a rockstar.

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