Lesley & Her Home
It's pretty safe to say that we could all benefit from a daily dose of inspiration these days, and this morning, that quota is being filled to overflowing by Lesley, of Blare June, and her light and airy Nova Scotia space. Not only does Lesley acquaint us with her stunning décor aesthetic, but she also sheds light on the everyday life of a psychiatry resident and how she uses her blog as a creative outlet apart from work.
In an attempt to combat the cold, dark weather that is characteristic of Nova Scotia, Lesley opted to keep her home open, bright and full of light. The space’s designer, Lauren Hire, worked to embody the Blare June brand by incorporating comfort and warmth into every detail. We guess it’s hard to go wrong when your go-to cozy accessory is a giant pile of pillows! From wall to wall, you can sense the love and care that Lesley invests in all of her endeavors.
From a young age, Lesley has been fascinated by the study of human emotion. Through her blog and successful medical career, Lesley focuses on combatting common misconceptions attributed to mental illness. She has worked tirelessly to interpret the truth regarding this topic and to promote overall wellness in her daily life. Lesley graciously welcomed us into her home so that we could better understand her passion behind these oh-so relevant topics. Without further ado, we invite you to tour the beautiful home of an equally beautiful soul!
First, tell us about your passion for mental health and your psychiatry residency training?
Ever since I was a young girl—as cliché as it may sound—I was fascinated by the reasons individuals may feel or behave the way they do. Although I likely glorified the profession of psychiatry when I was young (I watched too many movies growing up), I had a strong feeling very early on that working in the field of mental illness was what I was ‘meant to do.’ My grandfather and father are both physicians, so being surrounded by medicine since birth also likely played a significant part in my decision to pursue medicine as a career.
I am currently in my fourth year (of five) of psychiatry residency training in Nova Scotia, Canada. Although I truly love what I do, I felt that I was lacking a creative outlet in my life about one year ago. As a result, I decided to integrate my two favorite interests—mental health and lifestyle—by starting my own blog.
What's one commonly held mental illness misconception that you see a lot of people buying into?
Thank you for asking such an important question. Educating others about the misconceptions of mental illness is one of the main goals behind my blog. Although there are many misconceptions, I am most passionate about the incorrect use of the term OCD. I recently wrote a piece for Darling Magazine on this incorrect use. The media has been throwing around this term, rather carelessly, as being a trait one would aspire to have instead of it being a serious disorder.
OCD is a psychiatric disorder that is comprised of obsessions or compulsions or both. What people typically mean when they say “I’m so OCD” is that they are neat, tidy, and like everything color-coordinated, organized and ‘just so.’ Instead, obsessions actually refer to recurrent, intrusive and persistent thoughts, urges or images that are often unwanted and cause marked anxiety and distress. Common themes in obsessional thoughts include: violent thoughts (for example, thoughts of killing a loved one), sexual thoughts (for example, unwanted sexual thoughts of children and family members) and thoughts of contamination (for example, thoughts that one will be infested with germs). Therefore, using this term inaccurately can be quite offensive and hurtful to somebody living with actual Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).
What TV shows are you obsessing over right now?
As much as others may call my choices guilty pleasures, I don't feel guilty at all. With the field of work I do, I like to watch shows that don’t make me think, if that makes any sense? Recently, I’ve been watching "The Real Housewives of ‘Anywhere'" and "Divorce" starring Sarah Jessica Parker (any excuse to see Carrie again on the screen, sign me up!). When my husband and I decide to watch TV together, we agree on "Seinfeld" re-runs, "Workaholics" and "Curb Your Enthusiasm." Classics!
The goal of my blog is to normalize mental illness and promote overall wellness. In order to maintain a positive outlook on life and achieve wellness, I feel it is important that we educate ourselves and evolve.
What's the mood you want your home to embody?
When I was working with Lauren Hire from @houseofhiredesigns on designing this space, we discussed at length how the mood of the home would be an extension of my brand. Nova Scotia is very cold and dark for many months out of the year, so I wanted a space that was light and airy and reminded me of the warmer months. It was important to me to have a place that was calming and cozy to come back to after a long day in the hospital.
All-time favorite beauty brand: go!
This is a hard question…there are so many! If I had to pick just one though, it would be Glossier. Yes, I’ll admit its packaging first intrigued me. Although the soft pink aesthetic and fun stickers were what initially caught my attention, the actual formula is even better. I especially love the Boy Brow, Mega Greens Galaxy Pack and the new serums! Unfortunately, at this time the company does not ship to Canada, so I have to get clever with ways I can purchase the products. Thank you to my American blogger friends who have helped me out!
Tell us about your honeymoon.
Just over a year ago, my husband and I celebrated our nuptials in Bali, Indonesia. We both have always wanted to visit Bali and I can confidently say it was the best holiday we have ever gone on. We decided to spend two weeks on the island because one week just didn’t feel long enough after such a lengthy flight. We stayed one week at the The St. Regis Bali Resort and one week at the Four Seasons Resort Bali. I recently showcased my entire trip on a three-part travel series on the blog.
If you have the opportunity to visit the wonderful island of Bali, I truly can’t recommend it enough. If you do have an upcoming trip, make sure to visit the monkey forest in Ubud, Bali, rice fields and coffee plantation. You may just learn something surprising at the plantation that may or may not involve feces! Trust me when I say you will see coffee in a whole new light—gross!
Do you play music at home? Who are your favorite artists?
My husband is more of the music fan in our home and I can’t say he especially loves my choices, so when he is home, his music tends to win. However, when I am alone or my girlfriends are visiting, I love to listen to Beyoncé, Taylor Swift, Adele and now JoJo on repeat!
How does your lifestyle blog normalize mental illness? What are your goals with BlareJune.com?
Besides starting www.blarejune.com as a way to fulfill a creative void in my life, the goal of my blog is to normalize mental illness and promote overall wellness. In order to maintain a positive outlook on life and achieve wellness, I feel it is important that we educate ourselves and evolve. Due to working in the field, the topic of mental illness is very near and dear to my heart. I felt omitting this main area of my life from the blog would be shying away from real life, my authenticity and—as a result—further enhancing stigma. Although I love the perks and opportunities that come with blogging, what is the most meaningful to me is when I receive emails from young women thanking me for discussing their illness online and bringing awareness to something they struggle with daily. It is this feedback that is the real reason I started blarejune.com.
Nova Scotia is very cold and dark for many months out of the year, so I wanted a space that was light and airy and reminded me of the warmer months.
Your bedroom feels so peaceful. What are your tips for promoting relaxation in this or ANY space?
Thank you! For me, I knew I wanted a bedroom that felt peaceful and a place to unwind after a long day at work. Although I would definitely find use for a television in my bedroom, I find it peaceful to leave electronics outside the bedroom. Another great tip I learned from collaborating with Lauren at @houseofhiredesigns is surrounding yourself with your favorite items to promote relaxation. Whether it is a cherished book or your favorite scent, keeping the things that have special meaning visible throughout your space will promote relaxation as well as security.
I am also a huge pillow gal! There is nothing I love more than snuggling up with a cozy pillow and blanket. I especially love this blush velvet option by Tonic Living. Finally, as a visual person, beautiful artwork was very important to me when designing my wall space. I especially love photos of more sunny days than what I may be experiencing at the time in Nova Scotia. There are so many great options from Minted, like this California-inspired option or this one.
How do you maintain your personal wellness? Tell us about your health routines!
For me, I maintain my personal wellness through practicing sleep hygiene nightly, eating fresh for the majority of the time and exercising regularly. Although I don’t make it to the gym as much as I would like, I have found barre class to be the workout for me. I have also found my blog to be a significant contributor to my overall wellness. In psychiatry, it is not uncommon to feel overwhelmed hearing the trauma others have experienced over the course of a day. I find being able to write about fashion and travel—in addition to wellness—has really helped me maintain balance.
However, the most important aspect that continues to help me maintain personal wellness is surrounding myself with like-minded and positive individuals. I am so fortunate to have a core group of girlfriends that are supportive and intelligent. I enjoy the conversations I have with each of these women daily and I appreciate the common trait of empowering others that they all embody.
What’s your favorite thing to cook at home?
As much as I wish I were a great cook, I must admit I am not! Halifax is filled with amazing places to eat, so I often meet my husband or girlfriends for a bite after work. That being said, when I do eat at home, I eat very cleanly. Whether it is salmon or grilled chicken and a salad, I often save my indulgence for the times I am eating at a place with way more skill than I have.
When you eat out, where do you usually go?
As mentioned, I love to meet my girlfriends over a great meal. Although Halifax is a smaller city, it truly has so many great options. I particularly love Edna for brunch and enVie when looking for something more plant-based. Being from Nova Scotia, we are only a short flight away from the Big Apple, and as a result, I have been fortunate to visit New York City many times. I recently rounded up my favorite places to eat in NYC on my blog, including By Chloe and Jack's Wife Freda.
What’s the key to a perfectly made bed in your opinion?
I wish I knew! Although, I do find when my sheets are crisp and newly washed, my bed always looks more presentable. Also, a well-fitted bed skirt goes a long way! Unless you are able to keep the space under your bed perfectly clean, a bed skirt can make a huge difference. I once heard that making your bed each morning can increase your productivity for the day. I haven’t looked to see if this is backed up with research, but regardless, I have bought into it!
Your book collection is extensive! What are your favorite books?
Thank you! Although I have a stack of psychiatry books in the back of my closet, their covers aren’t always the prettiest so they don’t usually make it on to display. I believe a great book is one that you truly want to read over and over. The books written by Diane von Furstenberg—A Signature Life and The Woman I Wanted To Be—I must have read more than 10 times each. I find her story and outlook on life incredibly inspiring as a young woman. I can’t recommend them enough. I also adore Lauren Conrad’s lifestyle brand and flip through the pages of her books regularly when looking to recreate a look or plan an upcoming party.
What are your favorite spots to visit in Nova Scotia when you just need to get out of the house?
When I am not at the hospital, at home working on my blog or traveling, you can find me at my favorite local Halifax boutique. No, I am not always shopping when I am visiting the store (at least that’s what I tell my husband…shhh). One of my dearest friends, Joey, owns the beautifully curated and affordable shop. If you ask any Haligonian where is the best place to shop locally, I bet that Sweet Pea Boutique will be their response.
However, when in search for a weekend away that doesn’t involve a flight or lengthy drive, I love to visit my parents at their summer home in Ingonish, Nova Scotia. This adorable beach town is way up north in Cape Breton (an island off the mainland of Nova Scotia) and is where I spent every summer growing up. It was also the location of my recent wedding!
I am so fortunate to have a core group of girlfriends that are supportive and intelligent. I enjoy the conversations I have with each of these women daily and I appreciate the common trait of empowering others that they all embody.
"Happiness" art print // "Sun Bleached Palm Trees" art print // Pink velvet pillow // "Afloat" art print // "Pining for Pineapple" art print // "Pink Agave" art print // Gray stripe pillow // Pink buffalo check pillow // Gray sofa // "Venice Beach Rollerskates" art print // "Woman in a Boat" art print // Grand Dame Recipe Tin // "Flowers for Friends" art print // "Flowers for Emma" art print // Berry Fleur Chinoise Pillow // Berry Deco Pillow // Venice Net Tassel Bolster Pillow // Wire dining chair // Eiffel wooden dining chair // Dining room table // The New York Times: 36 Hours USA & Canada, West Coast book by Barbara Ireland // Nasty Galaxy book by Sophia Amoruso // "Darling" mug // Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree // Floor lamp // Shag rug