Thursday, 15 February 2018

A toast to the last post

Hello friends
It's February. Ridiculous, right?
I've been thinking about this exact post and this little juicy blog for two months now. Perhaps longer. And I'm sad, but kind of relieved, kind of excited to say that this is the last post for this blog.

The chapter ended some time ago for me. And this next chapter is just so bloody exciting and good and amazing and incredible and fun and entertaining and free.

Over the past twelve months I've been receiving weekly, sometimes daily, some lovely, some sad, some powerful emails from women who have been either following my blog or have stumbled across it. I feel very humbled that these incredible women have reached out to me, seeking advice or looking for answers or just simply putting their feelings into words and sending them to a stranger, me. The topic of these emails is the same: Help. My husband has left me. What do I do?

It's been almost eighteen months since my first husband and I split up. Divorce is so 2016 for me, but there's a lot of people out there who are in the thick of it and are simply looking for a light at the end of the tunnel. I remember Googling anything and everything I could think of in search of any kind of answer to reassure me that I wasn't a complete fuck up.

So I thought I would write an open letter-slash-guide to the ladies out there seeking guidance and support while they go through one of the trickiest and stickiest times in their lives. Each email I have received asks the same questions, amongst the words of stress, shock, fear, panic and sadness. Therefore, in pure-Ali form, here is my checklist for getting on with your shit and making a life for yourself.

Help. My husband has left me. What do I do?

1. Cry. It's good to cry. Let it all out, right into that pillow of yours. When you're done with the tears, come back and revisit this list.
2. Open your own bank account. From today, you are in charge of your own coin. Put it aside, squirrel it, you may need it for legal fees or just to pay rent or mortgage. Become a tight arse from today. You've got a big and financially challenging year ahead of you. Make yourself a budget in an excel spreadsheet or on the back of an envelope. It doesn't matter what format it is in, it's just time to take control.
3. Breathe. Fifteen minutes has passed and you have survived. Breathe again, now it's hit half an hour. Make yourself a cake. Another half an hour. Eat the cake. An hour and a half. Good work, you're doing great.
4. Chat to your workplace, tell your boss what's going on. Your organisation might have an affiliation with a counselling service. Accept the offer of free counselling. If not, seek out a counsellor. It's good to get this shit off your chest, talk it out with a stranger who can offer you some verbal, healing remedies.
5. Cry some more. Don't hold that shit in. Let it out. This is big.
6. Go and visit your mum. Let her cook your favourite childhood meal.
7. Put your sneakers on and go for a bushwalk. A big one. Cry for the first twenty minutes, scull some water then plan your future of independence.
8. Write a list. A list of your values, what you liked doing before you were married, who you were before you were married, your favourite records, your goals, shit you want to do when you grow up... that kind of thing. This life is now about you. Your husband has left you, he can figure his own life out.
9. Stop complaining. Accept what has happened. This is not saying you have to forgive (I always associate forgiveness with religion and I'm not religious), but accept your new situation. Deal with it. This is now where you are at. Work out your next steps. Look forward, the past has already happened. Just keep swimming.
10. Eat veggies. The divorce diet will take its toll and while you will be skinnier than ever before, you will be feeling like shit. Stress does bad things to your gut and I bet you are stressed to the high nines right now!
11. With that money you have squirrelled away from your own independent bank account, buy something nice for yourself: a frock, a candle, more cake. I highly recommend buying a new bed and bed linen.
12. Simplify your life. If you have kids, you are now on your own and that washing pile or dinner won't sort itself out. Stop putting pressure on yourself, and just let life take its time. Remember, fifteen minutes, then half an hour, then forty-five... and so on. If it's baked beans for tea. Rad. Crack that can. Tomorrow add a slice of bread.
13. Start to look around you and be proud of how well you're doing. You're becoming independent and taking control of your life. Don't let his failure, fail you.
14. My mum told me at some point, the best kind of revenge is happiness. Never go seeking revenge, only seek happiness. Find what makes you happy. Go do it. Starting now.
15. Plan towards something: a holiday, a house move, a new career, study, a new course, craft - something that inspires you to get out of bed in the morning.
16. Say yes to offers from your friends. Don't feel like you are putting people out of place, if they're offering to cook you food or a night in their holiday house. Take it. It's a treat.
17. Get out of the house. Start exploring your new world. Do things because you want to do them.
18. Breathe. Six months has passed now.  You're doing great. Get a haircut.
19. Invite friends over to your house regularly for wine and food. Time to start picking up your social life again and start making a new home. Your home.
20. You've got this girl.

So it's been almost eighteen months. I left my Yarraville home that I had renovated with my first husband, heavily pregnant with my now almost five year old son. The house that started this blog in the first place. It was such a relief to leave that house. My son and I are now living in Kyneton, twenty minutes away from my first husband, who is slowly becoming my friend. It hasn't been easy, there's been tears and insecurities, but fuck me, I've just completed the home stretch and it's good to get pass that finishing line and start at the starting line again.

Which is why this sweet little blog is now coming to a sweet end. But don't worry, I'm planning up an excellent concoction and a new blog is on its way. You better bloody follow it.

In the meantime, I will leave you with something I have said to my son (and whispered to myself in the mirror daily) over the past eighteen months:

You are strong. You are brave. You are kind. You are awesome.

You got this girl.

Signing off.

Ali Murray nee Webb.

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

A Tapped Resource

If it was beer, we wouldn’t be so reckless. Granted, we’ve become a lot smarter and wiser in years of late, but why do we still treat our water like, well, waste?

Ok. It’s been around for a long time and, like your Ken Done place-mats, it’s become part of the common household.
We’re about to kick into summer gear for another year and with the new season comes for the reminder that we need to care for and preserve our water.
We are so lucky to have access to clean drinking water, straight from the tap, but believe it or not, not everyone is aware of this in Melbourne.
Even though Melbourne has some of the highest quality drinking water in the world, bottled water is still being purchased with 50 per cent of these bottles ending up in landfill or as litter.
In the West, we seem to be pretty good at keeping an eye on our local environment but how do we keep it looking good for future generations?
Local group run by state and local government, Greening the West encourages positive environmental care in all forms – from pot plants to car parks, nature strips to nature reserves, rooftops and of course our all-important waterways.
There are several projects underway in the West that focus on keeping our grounds green and our undergrounds clean. These water preservation projects that span across the West are not just for their good looks, but for our future as we start to see reduced rainfall in our hottest seasons.
While it’s good to see the big organisations thinking wisely about their communities, I’m curious as to how I can make an impact and take care of my previous tap liquid and importantly how I can show my son to be water smart.
Clare Lombardi from City West Water said preserving and caring for your water is as simple as just not wasting it.
“I think it’s about striking the right balance between using water as you need it and ensuring we have enough water available into the future. Singing in the shower is a great way to keep your shower time down. Just skip the encore! Keep your garden green, just use a trigger nozzle and water in the early morning or evening,” said Ms Lombardi.
So there we have it. Do as the ads and your grandfolk say and be water-wise this summer. Drink from the tap, that stuff is liquid gold!
To discover water initiatives and learn how to keep your water usage to a minimum, visit or follow City West Water on Facebook and Instagram
This piece featured in the December issue of The Westsider

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

An Unromantic Divorce

I've just completed the divorce paperwork. There's something so unromantic about filing for a divorce online, checking boxes (Are you sure you want a divorce? Yes or No? Are you really sure? Yes or No?) But seriously Ali Webb, a divorce is the opposite of romantic.

I suppose I just expected something epic like a courier arriving at my desk in my open plan office and delivering an envelope, and as I carefully opened it the courier states in a monotone voice: 'You've been served. This is your divorce.' Then he strips off his shirt and boogies his way through the office to a Bill Withers soundtrack while balloons and streamers fall from the ceiling, a throne comes out from behind the stationary cupboard and I climb on while colleagues carry me through the open plan, past the printer and towards the exit. Woot woot.

But no, it took 14 minutes to fill in the online form, attach a PDF of a marriage certificate and hit 'submit'. I submit to divorce, mother fuckers.

So what happens now? Apart from the confirmation email, who knows. I wonder if I will get a Divorce Certificate, like a Marriage Certificate?

Congratulations Ali on your cancelled nuptials, please fill out this survey to tell us what you thought about marriage.

How long were you married for? 6 years.
Did you like being married? Yes.
What was your highlight? Having my son. Learning how to cook. Having someone to remember passwords. And holidays!
What was your lowlight? When my husband forgot to talk to me. And pretending to not know what day to take the bins out.
Would you recommend marriage to someone new to the concept? Absolutely! I'd do it again, but next time I would be better at it.
How would you rate marriage out of ten? 8. It has it's highs and lows, but it's up to the two of you to work out the balance. And it's ok to talk about when it's not working and when it is. It's also ok to separate. Happiness is important - for yourself and your kids.

Thanks for your response. Enter your details to win one of five 12 month subscriptions to Tinder - Premium Access.

Fuck that was fun to write.

Big love.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

How to Divorce by Ali Murray (Webb)

I'm no expert in the matter of divorce. I've only been married once. Is anyone an expert in divorce though? Liz Taylor perhaps? Or was she just an expert in getting married?

To get divorced you need to be separated from your partner for 12 months and 1 day. And that's a fucking long time if you were ready to get divorced the second you split up. This time, however, is a super interesting time to reflect upon times of toughness, embracing your new independent life, getting to know who you are, making decisions and remembering who you were before you were a wife.

With exactly two weeks to go until D-Day, I've discovered that I've never felt this happy for a really long time. How is this?

What I do with my time now is up to me and me alone.

Solo parenting
It's beautiful. My son and I are a dynamic duo. He is so like me in so many ways, but I can also see excellent aspects of his dad in him as well. My son is my best mate and as my absolute rock, he pulled me out of the hardest places in the past year - always resulting in dance sessions in our lounge room (mainly to The XX which seems to be his go-to record).

It's the way to my heart and I want to cook for you.

I make my own. I don't need to consult (except with decisions relating to my son) with anyone. If I want to get a tattoo - rad (just don't tell my mum), if I want to go on a sporadic road trip adventure, fuck it, I just go and have an excellent time. 

And the Ex?
Let's not call him an ex-husband. That's a bit negative and I don't like to live in a negative world. I prefer 'First husband'. I'm totally open to a second. Being married was fun. We see each other every week, I greet him with 'hey first husband'! Sometimes we drink beer or coffee together and chat about our kid. Yep, it's sometimes awkward, but this is life and I'm a totally awkward person - so I guess this is only natural. I've moved on. Life moves on. Our kid is what brings us together and it's up to us to show him how excellent life is and that we can be adults and excellent people.

And the future?
My son and I move to Kyneton in December. We have secured a radical home with a big garden. My parents are delivering my family table from my childhood just in time for Christmas. I can't wait to share meals around this table while records spin with friends new and old... and maybe a special handsome man.

I've also grown a nice set of balls - big ones - and I'm starting my own business. House of Webb has been registered and I will be freelancing my behind off from the bush. See more here: if you are seeking a publicist, communicator or just an excellent human.

Time is an absolute corker! So much can happen in twelve months. The only small bit of advice I can give to anyone going through a divorce, break up, life changing year is: listen to music - everyday, surround yourself with inspiring people, cook good food with good ingredients, be kind to yourself and your home - fuck off the plastic and the chemicals, and finally, say hello and smile at people. You might get a smile back.

Be kind. Kind is awesome.

With love, Ali Murray (Webb).

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Finding a (hangover) cure

I woke up with a hangover. A deep, throbbing, truly embedded red wine stinger. I thought I’d been well behaved. My best buddies had joined me for dinner and had brought over a couple of bottles to enjoy with the beef. I had obviously got a little carried away with my cooking confidence, thinking my delicate sips were in controlled fashion.

If I had of been in my twenties, kid free and frivolous, I would have slept it off; escaping my bed because I was sick of it by 2pm. Brunching late into the afternoon, eating avocado because I didn’t have a mortgage and reading a broadsheet newspaper from cover to cover because I had the room.

But not this time, not this decade, not in this current climate. My hangover was welcomed to Sunday with a hardcover Richard Scarry book wedged into my eyelid and a cry of a wet pyjama pant followed by demands for breakfast and Octonauts and Lego and activity. Ouch. It was 6.07am.

Trying to hide my disappointment in myself, I made pikelets and demolished them as best as I could just so I could shovel some Panadol into my body. I drank tea. I drank Nescafe. I had a sneaky cup of cordial. I was on a mission to destroy this heavy beast that was consuming my body.

It was now 11.30am. The sun was bright. We went to Williamstown Beach.

For someone who grew up in country North-East Victoria, I find it such a joy to live so close to the beach. I mean, you can ride your pushie to the water from where I live. However, on this day I chose to drive. I had promised my son a sandcastle and we had packed three Tonka trucks – and carrying those metal beasts anywhere is a commitment.

We arrived and set up our spot: towel, lunch box, Tonkas, buckets, shovels. We were set for at least a few hours.

And hell, if there is anything to rid yourself of a filthy hangover, it’s Willy beach on the cusp of spring. That fresh sea breeze off the water is enough to lift your spirits (and lift any spirits seeping out of your body). Dipping your toes into the freezing water is a spiritual release of any toxins trying to escape from your winter-fied toenails.

And if that’s not enough, tucked right at the tip of the bay is Kiosk D’Asporto; a delightful, sunny, super-happy cafĂ© that will turn any hangover frown upside down. Cakes, donuts, milkshakes, gelato, pulled pork sandwiches, salads and seriously THE BEST fish and chips you can find westside.

On this particularly ‘difficult’ day for me, I was super grateful for the smiley, stunning owner handing over a small cup of red jelly to my son who almost wept with joy at the treat. It was a top distraction for the anticipation of the freshly fried lunch goodness that was coming our way.

We ate our treats and watched the footy players wade through the fresh water, the pooches splashing about with sticks and balls and a weird fish-looking thing and a couple of hotties on their skateboards proving that being in your late thirties doesn’t mean you can’t smash out a few grinds along the esplanade.

With the lunch in our bellies, the hangover well and truly forgotten (except for reciting it word for word in this column), we built a mega sandcastle, collected some shells and blessed the sunshine and sea for making us feel so jolly good. We headed back home to Yarraville, sand still between our toes and our jean cuffs damp and sticky from the ocean.

With tea well and truly on my mind along with the downhill slope to bedtime on the horizon, I decided to not be a parental hero and cook up a storm but instead give the new local pizza joint, D’Asporto, a go.

The same owners as my lunch time haunt of the day, the pizza – just like my lunch - was unforgettably gorgeous. Traditional in all the right ways, with toppings to top off any hangover day and a base so textured and balanced, it can barely be described, just illustrated with a fine tip pen in an archival document for future generations to study.

My son and I demolished two pizzas (as takeaway in the comfort of our own home), we bathed and were in pjs by 7pm. It had been a big day, but the seaside had reset it and our D’Asporto pals had fixed it. It was perfect.

Treat yourself to a double decker D’Asporto Day this week. You will be a better human for it.

You can find The Kiosk D’Asporto at 99 Esplanade, Williamstown and Pizza D’Asporto at 2-6 Ballarat Street, Yarraville (in the Village Green).

This article first appeared in the September issue of The Westsider.