Saturday, November 5, 2016

Never Grow Up

Taken September 24, 2016, my twentieth birthday.
Six weeks ago was my birthday. I turned twenty years old. And the last year bridging the gap between “teenagerism” and entering “real” adulthood (by societal standards)--oh, how it has brimmed with joy, with hope, with dreams! Oh, how it has burst with sorrow, anger, depression, terror, loneliness, frustration. Oh, how God has placed His hand over all of it, sending loving, but difficult, reminders that He is still the One in charge, and that His plans are, thank God, much wiser than my own.

Maybe, if you're a regular reader, you've wondered why it's been seven months, and more, since I last published a post. The truth is that I'm no longer the woman I was a year ago. I don't find the same satisfaction in the somewhat superficial art of fashion. I still love the confidence that dressing nicely gives me, and I still love to follow fashionistas on social media--but my focus in life has moved, at least a little, beyond my appearance. I eat with less restriction, but with more mindfulness. I buy clothes that are comfortable and that I am happy in. I smile and find beauty in as many people and places as I can--and I stop obsessing over my own level of beauty. I stand and stare at rippling brooks graced by mallard ducks and framed by a medley of orange and red-tinged leaves; I crane my head to peer at the top of a majestic chestnut tree, in awe of the beauty of creation. God has used many circumstances in the last twelve months and, yes, even only in the last six, to grow me up almost further than I knew could be possible in a year's time, and in it, He has dealt with both my outward and inward selves.

I remember last autumn vividly. I remember the feelings of fear, because this would be my first year of calculus, and I figured that this year would define my desire--or lack thereof--to become a math major. I remember a torrent of emotions flooding me on my nineteenth birthday, during a day that was as alternately cloudy and sunny as my mood. I remember my feelings of inadequacy, because I was supposed to be at Oregon State University in Corvallis, and not stuck around Goldendale attending school full-time online while being dual-enrolled at OSU and my local community college.

I remember, with shame, the day I scoffed at my calculus classmate Kevin for asking the silly question, “Do you guys want to be friends?” when we were going to work on our first project together. I remember realizing that it was okay to not be completely rigid around people. I remember deciding that I was going to have fun. I remember how this decision played a bigger role in the following months than any other decision I could have made.

I remember with a bittersweet feeling in my heart how I started to learn to let people know me, and I remember what a freedom and a blessing it was.

I was so happy.

Yet this freedom of really knowing people came with its curse of ugliness. I thought in April, roughly seven months after I had first gotten to know a multitalented and beautiful group of calculus students, that I knew why God had shut every door there was to my pursuing my Bachelor's of Mathematics at Oregon State University. I thought He had used it to bless me with the knowledge of what being open to people is like, even though it's not always safe. Except I didn't actually know what it meant to say, “Love isn't safe.”

I didn't, because I didn't know how ugly love can be.

Depression, loneliness, insecurity, neediness, illness. Exhausted emotional and mental states from carrying so much baggage. Irritability, because I shouldn't have to shoulder their pain with mine, should I? Anxiety and concern. A growing realization that my anxiety and concern was for myself, not for them, and that what I felt wasn't love, and that what I did about it wasn't very loving.

I can only think what Mom said to me once: God uses every relationship to bring us closer to Him, no matter what that relationship was or is like.

Nearly two months ago, I left home for the first time and settled in a new city to pursue my dream. My dream of becoming a mathematician, of studying the beauty and the intricacy of the most applicable science mankind has invented/discovered. I have lived some soul-shaking days in the past eight weeks. I have felt such a yawning chasm of hurt in my heart that I feared I could never recover. I have been tempted to say “I have no need to stay here; I'm going home” multiple times. I have realized anew how incredibly selfish I am, and how crappy I am at building and maintaining relationships. I have felt settled and then that feeling has been shredded by the realization of my limited abilities in the area of mathematics. Associating with so many scientists and mathematicians has shown me how arrogant I really am. Coming from a tiny town, it wasn't hard to get a big head, especially when I was frequently told how smart and talented I am. Sure, I could pretend to be humble; I pretended to be humble so long that I believed it was true. Then I was thrown onto a university campus with twelve thousand other people, and I realized I'm not so smart after all. My fellow mathematicians are more effective problem solvers and they notice patterns more quickly. They have better memories than I do, and they have an even broader base of talent.

Yes, I have learned some things about math majors. They are tenacious, but the best of them are tenacious not for the degree but because they love the subject so much. They are some of the most broadly-disciplined people around. They are incredible musicians. They are well-read. They have intelligent opinions on subjects ranging from everyone's favorite television series to astrophysics to coffee to working out. They are so passionate about their subject that if you walk up to them and ask “What are you working on?” they will willingly--happily--spend the next five straight minutes explaining a proof and why they are struggling with it.

But math majors are pretty weird too. They tend to vary on two extremes: some are obnoxious, for example, and you wish they would shut up. Others are silent; they speak only when asked to speak. (And then when you ask them to speak they won't shut up. But you know.) They wear those funny black-rimmed nerd glasses. They love Star Wars and superheroes and lame jokes. They are whip smart but they have occasions where they just draw total blanks and tiny things, like arithmetic, go straight up and over their heads.

I read a poem posted on Facebook that mentioned the idea of Fall being the only season of life where change is actually appreciated. As the falling yellow, orange, and red leaves leave the chestnut and walnut trees lining Ellensburg avenues bare for the winter, and I reconsider how the last eight weeks, the last twelve months, the last twenty years of experience have shaped me into the woman I am, I fear the next year, the next two years. I anticipate the new experiences. I apprehend the possibility of unabated loneliness. But I'm trying to let go. I'm trying to learn not to say “Never.” I'm trying to see God's hand moving in my life, and relinquish whatever shoddy control I thought I had.

Take some pictures in your mind of your childhood room.
Memorize what it sounded like when your dad gets home.
Remember the footsteps; remember the words said,
and your little brother's favorite songs.
I just realized everything I had is someday going to be gone.

So here I am in my new apartment in a big city;
they just dropped me off.
It's so much colder than I thought it would be,
so I tuck myself in and turn my night light on.

Wish I'd never grown up.
--Taylor Swift

Monday, March 21, 2016

5 Steps to a Spring-Fresh Wardrobe

The longer I live the faster time passes.

That was a free profound quote brought to you by your editor-in-chief.

I was recently inspired to create a post on my top advice for refreshing one's wardrobe for spring. If you're anything like me, you might be feeling doldrum-y with the lack of sunlight and (just maybe) a closet that needs some serious updating. I know lately I've just wanted to shop till I drop . . . if only I had an endless amount of funds! Of course I also believe that I just want to use shopping as an excuse to procrastinate on all my calculus homework. . . .

Buuuuuuuuuuuuuut because you didn't come to hear me blab, here are my five steps to a wardrobe perfectly fit for spring.


Time to say goodbye till Thanksgiving! or whenever you start wearing trench coats again. Take your sweaters, boots, and anything that's too warm for the next few months and store it in a box or tub. It's a lot easier to navigate a closet that isn't partially taken up by clothes you will never choose to wear anyway.


Now you get to get out that other tub stuffed out of sight that holds all your fun spring and summer shoes and dresses! And on to the next step -- 


If you're not in the habit of wearing every piece of your clothing on a regular basis -- or if you don't have clothes that my sister likes to call “foolproof” -- for a picture-perfect spring wardrobe, you'll need to try everything on. Make sure your pieces look flattering on you, that they aren't too tight, too stretched, or too loose. Furthermore, maybe your style has changed over the past year. Maybe you're less classic and more boho. Usually all you'll need is a gut feeling. If you know you don't like it, great. Kudos for being decisive. Now you can donate it if you dislike it and keep it if you like it.


Second check? For the clothes that look really worn out. You might love a piece for its versatility or comfort, but if it looks like it's been through the garbage dump and back, you should probably get rid of it. Signs of this are pilling, stains you've tried and tried to clean but just can't get rid of, and holes you can't mend. Do yourself a favor and just throw them out (garbage or donation, your choice -- though please thoughtfully consider whether a donation would be beneficial to someone in need or if it would be better to just toss it).


Now the funnest part of all! If you desire, now's the time to go shopping for some spring and summer wear. A nice white dress, floral heels, a new purse. . . . Need an excuse to go shopping? Cool cuz I just gave you one.

If your wardrobe is pretty large, you might need to purposefully set aside time for each step, because, granted, cleaning out one's wardrobe is often not a simple task, and largely depends on one's mood at the time. (“I feel so fat in this!” “I look terrible all the time!” I know we can all relate to at least one of those two exclamations.) Take deep breaths, be positive, don't focus on yourself too much, etc. . . . And mostly have fun!

You've made me curious! How do you clean out your wardrobe for spring?

Monday, February 8, 2016

Valentine's Day Playlist 2016

1// ALL OF THE STARS (Ed Sheeran)

2// THIS IS WHAT IT TAKES (Shawn Mendes)



5// WANTED (Hunter Hayes)

6// ARMS (Christina Perri)

7// GONE, GONE, GONE (Phillip Phillips)

8// JUST THE WAY YOU ARE (Bruno Mars)

9// I SEE THE LIGHT (Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi)

 10// L-O-V-E (Nat King Cole)

11// I WON'T GIVE UP (Jason Mraz)

12// THINKING OUT LOUD (Ed Sheeran)

13// A THOUSAND YEARS (Christina Perri)

14// A THOUSAND YEARS (PART 2) (Christina Perri)

Just some of my favorite love songs for this fourteenth....

Monday, February 1, 2016

I Care What People Think | Vol. 1

I like the idea of a yearly blog survey, but they take a long while to produce and I'm not sure how many followers say "Goody!" at the idea of spending twenty minutes answering questions about how someone else can improve his or her blog space -- though admittedly it is their choice, right? ;) Instead of doing a survey I thought I would just ask if there are any specific requests you have for Dance A Real in the coming months. New posts, more posts, what kind of posts, what should change anywhere and everywhere -- you have the floor so take it. Lol.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Interrogation Room | Vol. 1

On Pinterest: Hannah Barta or
Facebook page: Dance A Real
On Twitter: @HannahBarta
On Google+: Hannah Barta

Monday, January 4, 2016

Thinking Ahead // 2016

i want 2016 to be a year of accomplishments. here you have the resolutions blog post you've probably seen the four days past by the other bloggers you follow. i don't like the word “resolutions” -- i guess we've all been turned off it by the marketing it receives every january. my goals, resolutions, hopes, whatever are not all going to be tangible, because i've come to realize that the tangible goals are not always the ones focusing on personal growth.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Looking Back // 2015


making goals | apprehending 17 credits winter quarter | biology classes at 8:30 a.m. | starting speech | unseasonably warm weather | learning cascading style sheets | using a bunsen burner and wearing safety goggles

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

One Dozen Tricks for Better Blogging // Vol. 1

1// Keep a list of post ideas to make running out of inspiration hard

2// Proofread

3// Proofread

Friday, December 18, 2015

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

Hello friends! We're officially only a week out from Christmas. Time is flying this December, though I suppose I think that every year. I've been busy enough since my Christmas break unofficially started on Thursday, December 10, following my calculus final: I've explored Hood River, finding the best natural foods market on the heights and wondering at the gorgeous Christmas lights; tripped up to Olympia to watch Hallie perform in her church's Christmas production; returned to working normal hours since the week preceding and the week of finals ended; driven to Vancouver to visit the bestest Bex; and . . . tried to be productive and failed. haha

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Dear Vlog | My 19th Birthday, September 24, 2015

It's been a long time coming, but better late than never, I hope :)

For more videos from me, follow me on YouTube here.
Note: There are some school projects on my YouTube channel, which I don't want to delete at the moment. Please disregard them unless you have a specific interest in them.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

A/W Outfit Inspo

I know it's much more wintry than it is autumnal but . . . the winter solstice isn't for another six days though it's getting colder and colder--so that's a good compromise, right?
Holiday outfit. I saw this skirt at Express and had no idea how to style it. Doesn't work with my butt anyway...:
by Style Estate
Lately I've been more attracted to trendy outfits. I love the golden sheen on this skirt, which complements the black wonderfully well and adds a Christmas-y element. The black clutch with gold sparkles rounds out the spectrum. Plus for some reason I'm figuratively enthralled by her location; I think I have outfit-taking fever.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

2015 Winter Wedding Essentials

I know, I know . . . the “real” wedding season has come and gone. Summer is long past and Thanksgiving is right around the corner (how did that happen?). And maybe it's only because I love wintertime and the Christmas season and all the quietude extra hours of darkness bring, but I personally believe that November-February weddings are the most beautiful ones around.

So here I am, having been inspired by The Black Tux, a tuxedo rental company, to share with you my fave winter wedding essentials! and ideas :D

1) The right dress

amelia sposa 2016 wedding dresses off the shoulder lace long sleeves embroidered bodice gorgeous A-line ball gown wedding dress nova #alineweddingdress #weddingdresses, #fall #2015 #wedding #dresses, #lightindreaming,:
We all know it's all about the dress. This one by Amelia Sposa has an aura of Kate Middleton, and the added lace sleeves also make it a little less chilly for a winter wedding. Winter weddings call to my mind great elegance, so take a look at her hair. It's upswept, flattering, mature, and graceful. I love it.

2) Candles

Did you all get to watch Ben Seewald propose to Jessa Duggar last August?
He decorated the lovely Crownthorn Chapel with battery-run candles and rose petals. Though I would prefer the setting to be darker so that the candles are more noticeable, I love this idea. At my cousin's wedding in 2008, she did something similar--lighting candles all along the walls of a dark church sanctuary. I find candles both calming and romantic in such a setting--and I think those two emotions are essential to any bride's wedding day. (Especially the calming one, haha.)

3) A Dose of Ethereal

Twinkle lights:

4) Floor-Length Ballgowns for Bridesmaids

When Hallie decided to have a February wedding, she also chose that her three bridesmaids would wear floor-length gowns. For winter weddings, I love this idea. It ups the elegance factor will (sort of) keeping the bridesmaids warm.

I say sort of because I wore a sleeveless dress and took photos outdoors and was kind of cold.
I think I like the setting and photography more than almost anything else here.:

5) An Excellent Photographer

this might be the prettiest wedding i've ever seen:
By Snippet and Ink
This rings true for any wedding in any season. You need to find a photographer who can play with the lighting you choose (e.g., if you have a dark setting illuminated by candles . . .); some professional photographers are far better outdoors than in and while, yes, indoor light is difficult to manipulate, if you find a good photographer his or her abilities should outweigh the drawbacks of your venue, etc.

What are your winter wedding essentials?

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The “Natural” Hair Care Routine | My Experience

Also in this series: The Curly Girl Hair Routine.

I've mentioned before my interest in using all-natural products on my skin and hair to reduce my exposure to carcinogens and other potentially toxic chemicals. This interest led me to the Curly Girl routine first, but I quickly found that the “natural” routine and the Curly Girl routine worked synchronously at least half the time.

What is this routine? The “Natural Hair Care Routine” is typically associated with using diluted baking soda as a shampoo, and diluted apple cider vinegar as a conditioning rinse. Those who follow the routine will often tell you they wash their hair no more than twice a week, sometimes waiting as many as five days in between washes.

You can imagine how this has taken off across the World Wide Web. Olivia from Fresh Modesty, who is even more involved with natural hygiene than I am, tried it for several weeks in succession at least, and Jessica, Brigid, and Charlotte Boyer of The Boyer Family Singers gave it some consideration as well. The most recent statement I heard from Olivia was that she had "slacked off" on using it (Howard); her review after about a month on the routine was that her hair was softer and more manageable. As for the Boyer sisters, I don't believe they ever began after reading a contributed article, about which I'll go into more detail later in this post.

I personally started this routine in mid- to late summer of 2013. I vividly remember a few of my experiences: I would try to do a hair mask at least once a week, and the baking soda would never wash the coconut oil out of my hair, leading to many a day sauntering through the irrigation fields with greasy, coconut oil-y hair. There was also the occasion where it was picture day at the high school and, since it fell the day before my scheduled baking soda washing, my hair was a little greasier than I would have liked.

I would tell you I'm really not trying to paint this routine in all negatives, but that would be a big fat lie.

The most misleading of all things in this routine is, I think, that many a person believes it "works" for them.

And maybe it does for a while. But the gist of the articles kindly provided to the Boyer Sisters per their decision to implement this routine was that baking soda has a highly alkaline pH--9 or so--and your hair's natural pH is much more acidic--4 to 5, if I remember right. Can you now see that baking soda has a very, VERY high likelihood of causing scalp irritation? Because I don't want to risk plagiarism or going on forever, please continue reading about the way pH affects your scalp and hair in this article.

Personally--because personal experience is the most important kind after all--when I used this routine (for approximately four to six weeks), my scalp got greasy. My hair was limp. The picture in my mind is of it looking tired and unhealthy. My head itched. I got dandruff. . . . And the worst was that I saw my scalp getting redder and redder as time passed. Red with irritation.

So I decided to stop.

For those whom this routine seems to be “working”--I've heard many bloggers say this. I’ve also noted that it’s the bloggers who live in more humid areas--Tennessee, for example--who say it. I don’t know if humidity alters their hair’s acidity level or if the added moisture in the air makes their hair appear more vibrant for longer. But I do know that according to the science, this doesn’t work, and even added humidity isn't going to alter pH level by that much.

Have you tried this routine? What did you think of it if you did? Would you still try it in the future?

Sunday, October 18, 2015

1, 2, 3, 4

Nothing like a two-and-a-half-month sabbatical from outfit photos to give your brain a break.

Ha. Because taking outfit pictures really requires so much of my brain. I'm sure a normal good photographer uses his or her brain while on the job, but other than minor adjustments I actually know how to make, me? Noooo. . . .
Blouse/Style & Co. (thrifted) $3.50?   Skirt/Great Northwest: Indigo (Fred Meyer) $11.98   Ankle Boots/Carlos (Ross) $27.99   Nails/Jamberry Trushine in "Black Cherry"

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Blessings | Vol. 3

33 | A quick recovery from the stomach flu (no worries, this happened in early August :))

34 | PC-free-successful Sundays

35 | Sleeping shirts

36 | Going to the Lake with best friends & best cousins

37 | Stress-free vacations

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Better Blogging | Pictures, Layout, & Content

Hi! Today's topic is better blogging in terms of photography, the layout/design of your blog, and its content. One of you requested this in the reader survey (or Q & A . . . I'm not remembering at the moment) I did in the beginning of the year -- so thank you to whomever it was :)


I run a fashion blog. (Thank you, Captain Obvious.) Photographs are extremely important on a fashion blog -- as important as a food blogger's pictures and even, I might say, as important as a professional photographer's portfolio. A bad photograph sends the impression that the photographer herself (assuming we're all female fashion bloggers here) is unprofessional. A bad photograph doesn't immediately draw the eye (except to its inferiority) like a good one does; and, as you might imagine, your social media capabilities are shot on platforms such as Pinterest, which revolve around excellent photographs.
I have it on professional authority that this was one of the better pictures I've taken.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Summer 2015 Favorites

It's been like FOREVER since I did one of these posts (MARCH, I think? Yikes). Ashley over at Bramblewood Fashion reminded me that, since I haven't been successful at posting regularly of late (due to having to save about $600 for a new camera), this topic is one that I can post on since I can pull images off Pinterest. :) Beware: this is going to be a pretty long list since I have three-ish months to cover ;)


Burt's Bees - Pomegranate Lip Balm Tube
I recently rediscovered my love for this lip balm when applying it in haste to get ready for work. Sometimes I find it too slimy, but in combination with a light layer of foundation and a few coats of mascara its sheen substitutes for a lip gloss. This lip balm is also highly moisturizing.

Monday, August 17, 2015

The Curly Girl Routine | My Experience

curly girl method, this really works!  I hated my hair before and now I love my glory!I can't remember when I started getting so concerned about my appearance and interested in natural health and all that jazz; maybe it was 2010 or 2011ish. My family members reading this will laugh at me inwardly because of my obsession with and ability for remembering dates so keenly. It's a strange observation, but it makes me feel discomfited if I can't remember when something happened. Must be part of my personality type.

Anyway, since that has nothing to do with this post, in one of those years I just mentioned I got to the point where my freaky frizzy hair irritated me and I wanted to know how to better care for it. It was at this time that I searched the Internet and found out about something called the “Curly Girl routine.”

In this routine, I was told to ditch my shampoo, brush, comb, and terry-cloth towel, and instead embrace my conditioner, gel, old rotting t-shirts, and finger-combing. Whaaat?

To those who've never heard about the routine -- and trust me, you probably haven't if your hair doesn't drive you insane with its frizziness -- it might sound utterly bizarre. “No shampoo? How the heck are you supposed to clean your hair!?” Well, the Routine emphasizes something called “co-washing” (which legitimately does sound bizarre): using your conditioner, which is supposedly formulated with gentle cleansers, to wash your scalp, then finger-combing a generous amount through the rest of your hair and rinsing out only the bare minimum. Then, after this co-wash, the Routine dictates plenty of scrunching with a paper towel (I would like to know if any paper towel can actually even hold up under that much water [and conditioner] weight) or old t-shirt, after which more conditioner and then gel is applied.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Making a “Vitablast” | The Whole Foods Way Series

My “Whole Foods Way” series started in the middle of April before I embarked on the intimidating Whole30 journey. This “recipe” I'm sharing with you today is really more of a method, and one I consider more important to me and my health than pretty much any other recipe I'll ever share with you guys.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Waking Up in Vegas

It's a safe bet I didn't think this particular Katy Perry song would be appropriate for any outfit post on this blog.
Today I'm on a fantasy trip to Las Vegas and lodging at the beautiful Venetian Hotel. I'll be taking you along for the ride on this Saturday in Vegas, showing you how I transition from a day sightseeing and sampling delicious food to attending Gordon Ramsay Steak and ordering his premier filet mignon.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Campus Style | The Real World

Today is the advent of a new series. I figure my outfits to CGCC (and, eventually, a university) should at least be more than pretty to look at -- they could be helpful as well (I mean seriously). This series is for you ladies heading off to class and desiring to beat the oh-so-tempting look of sweatshirts and sweatpants.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

My Whole30 | Recap & Results

Hi! Today's post is going to be a little different from what I normally do on this blog, but I was requested to share this info with you guys so I will :)

From April 28-May 27 (yesterday) I did the #Whole30 challenge. If you've never heard of this diet (which is so immensely popular now you probably have somewhere at least), it's a detoxifying month-long program to retrain your brain to think in a "healthy foods" manner. It cuts out any form (including additives) of sugar, dairy, grains, alcohol, tobacco, MSGs, carageenan, sulfites, and legumes.