The Routine: Elevating the Ordinary Everyday with Rachel Roberts

          For quite a while now I’ve been infatuated with the idea of reveling in what is ordinary and routine, the things that are equated with drudgery.  We go above and beyond to avoid tasks and chores because they are boring and mindless.  Cutting an onion or peeling garlic, washing the dishes, folding the laundry, washing our makeup off, flossing– these can become the greatest annoyances of our day (if we don’t avoid them all together).  We act as though they get in the way of life, but these tasks and moments make up a large portion of it.  Can we afford to approach them with such disdain?  I’ve found that relaxing into these little tasks is a matter of mindfulness.  Of course, I find that there are many paths to mindfulness.  Reflecting on the usefulness or beauty of a tool that’s getting the job done, considering your work as an act of love and service (to yourself or others), and, one of my favorites for its sheer boldness, radical acceptance.
          I find that time and time again, elevating what seems ordinary is a ticket to that deep wellspring of contentedness, though its often a hard phenomenon to articulate.  To assist, then, is this new series The Routine, where I’ll interview people from all walks, careers, and perspectives that will (hopefully) have some insight relevant to all our lives.
          Most of this infatuation of mine with the ordinary and routine comes from a deep need to overcome my own avoidance of these things.  I am far from the poster child of discipline and priority.  That said, I’d love for you to join me in my journey to honor these qualities and categories of life.
           Today, Rachel Roberts, the founder, owner and all around badass babe of Oyl + Water, is going to start us off in the right direction.  As a boutique marketing firm that specializes in the niche and devoted community of indie beauty brands and spas, she is intimate with many companies whose business it is to turn habit into pleasure and ritual, and she is no novice herself.
          Oyl + Water is truly a blessing of a company. It has set a beautiful new standard in Jacksonville for design and thoughtful marketing.  Not only did she assist me with Wild Taproot’s branding, but she’s become a good friend that continues to inspire me and stoke my creative fires.  Every dinner or run in at the coffee shop we have seems to fill me with the profound excitement of opportunity– opportunity for new creative projects, motivation within current projects, the well being that comes from striving toward goals for personal betterment, the ease that comes from confession and knowing what you’ll do next (or admitting you don’t have any f@#$ing clue).
Rachel Roberts Oyl and Water

         I’ve always encouraged my clients (and myself) to approach routine, chores, and the ordinary arts (personal care, cooking, laundry, washing the dishes, bathing the dog, creating a home, tending to relationships, etc.) with mindfulness, joy and beauty.  What is one routine you do everyday or every week that you love?  What does it bring to your life?

I have always loved mornings, and am currently in the practice of beginning my day more intentionally. I really do believe it sets the tone for the day to come, and as we know, how we spend our days is how we spend our lives. Currently, I love waking up around 6am and going straight into the kitchen to put the kettle on. I scoop three servings of ground coffee into my french press, and fill the blender with a spoonful of ghee and a spoonful of coconut oil. After the water has boiled and coffee has steeped, I pour the coffee into the blender and mix. It makes a delicious, creamy “bulletproof” style coffee that begins my day. I then take my piping hot coffee into my living room, take a seat on my meditation cushion and do a morning meditation. I usually end up writing a bit in my journal afterwards while enjoying my coffee, when I have the luxury of time.

         Similarly, what is one chore you enjoy doing?  Or one chore that you have elevated and made more beautiful?

I make my bed every morning. My boyfriend and I do it together (unless he does it while I’m making coffee, which is such a lovely way to say ‘I love you’ through small action.)

         In addition to celebrating the practice of the ordinary arts, I love doting over the craftsmanship and function that goes into tools.  What is one tool you use everyday that you love or cannot live without?  Is it beautiful?  Do you find that its beauty elevates the ordinariness of the task at hand?

My french press. I remember visiting with a friend in San Francisco many years ago and she made us coffee using a french press. The coffee was rich and satisfying and it tasted like coffee I drank many, many years ago in Berlin.  It just had a different quality to it,  I thought it was the most romantic thing. Soon after, I was gifted a french press, and I’ve been using it ever since. It not only elevates the ordinary morning task into a ritual, but it slows me down and reminds me to appreciate the first moments of my day. I really am a morning person, through and through. I think this ritual is the reason why.

         Name a grooming or personal care routine that fulfills you and tell us why.

Tending to my eyebrows. Whether I am tweezing, trimming, waxing or brushing them with a brow pomade, I find the experience meditative. When I’m having them done, I literally fall asleep on the table! I think a refined brow is an important and underrated detail in completing a look.

linen sheets bedgrey cat ripped jeanstable top kinfolk

 

         Favorite way to be eco-conscious?  In what ways has being green seeped into your practices of the ordinary arts (self-care and grooming, home care, relationships)?

I only use clean beauty products. It’s a perk of my job, sure, but it’s a decision I would make regardless of my profession. I think it’s important that we all understand the lifecycle of our products. When we use chemical-laden commercial products, the chemicals on our skin not only pollute our physical environment, but when we rinse our face, skin or hair, the toxins go down the drain, into our water system. The packaging gets disposed of, and where does it go? A landfill, where the toxins leech into the earth. Conversely, when we use clean beauty products made with organic and wildcrafted ingredients directly from a farm, formulated by hand and packaged sustainably, we’re kinder to our bodies and our planet, and we’re supporting small businesses. That’s really important to me.

Rachel Roberts Oyl and Water

#neverblendin

         One way you’ve minimized or simplified in the last year?

I just Marie Kondo’d my closet. I had long wanted to eliminate about 60% of my wardrobe. I wasn’t inspired by it anymore, and I had way more than I was wearing regularly. The day after Christmas, I had the house to myself, and I decided it was time. I made it into a leisurely activity. I made tea, played music and tackled it in phases. 5 bags and 1 box later, I felt lighter and more inspired by what I had opted to keep. Now, I plan to do the same with my kitchen soon. I honestly believe that when we have fewer, better things that we truly love, we are more creative, and more satisfied.

          What is one way you tend to your relationships that helps you stay connected outside of social media?

I have regular girls nights with a group of 6 women who have become my anchor, my mirror and my lifeline in this city. We make it a priority to get together monthly, share a meal, some wine, laughter and always, ALWAYS, depth and vulnerability. We joke that the next day, we’re all suffering from vulnerability hangovers! We share our dreams, fears, visions for our future, challenges in our relationships…all the things. There’s no whining, only support. It feeds me.

 

COMMENTS

  • April 28, 2018

    Hi Libby, I’m a new reader, a friend of Rachel’s. I love this interview and your thoughts around the mundane and mindfulness. I especially loved “time and time again, elevating what seems ordinary is a ticket to that deep wellspring of contentedness…” Really made me want to stop and ponder that for a while. Thanks for sharing your story and your thoughts. I was moved.

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