Saturday, December 31, 2016


2016: A Monthly Journal

January: Schoolwork demands my attention again as I cut back in my work hours at church. My three-hundred-level anthropology and English literature courses aren't nearly as demanding as my four-hundred-level biotechnology class was in fall quarter, but I'm also giving myself much more grace when it comes to my homework (read: procrastination is back, y'all). Integral calculus, on the other hand, doesn't let up in workload. I'm ill over Martin Luther King, Jr., weekend while I agonize over integration by parts and the “bag of tricks” that integration is.

February: The math club is unofficially formed at CGCC, and I (unofficially) step into my role as its vice president. I come up with an idea for a T-shirt for the math club, spend a grand total of about six hours finding the area of a tetrahedron with integration and law of sines and pretty much all the other math I have ever learned, and attend an art show in Hood River, hanging out in turns with a couple of my fellow calculus students. I struggle emotionally with myself and take up practicing yoga. I'm sick over Leap Day weekend, and on Leap Day the math club president and I host our first tutoring session with students from The Dalles High School.

March: The days get longer and warmer, the grass in Sorosis Park is lush and green, and the air is definitively springlike. Birds are cheeping in the trees as I take leisurely walks in the park. I finish my final project for Math 252, turn in my third test after having researched the differential equations in a flying frisbee, and eventually turn in my finals for all three of my classes. I begin spring break by spending some time in Hood River's bookshops, applying for admission to Washington State University and Central Washington University (since the dream of attending Oregon State in person had to die--or at least sleep for a while), watching Netflix, and helping at my church's youth lunch.

April: Spring quarter swings into my life with all the grace of a sledgehammer. Midnight is the earliest I ever crawl into bed with at least one deadline (and usually more) each night from four classes and fifteen credits. I ace my infinite series test, Dr. Toda signs the papers to approve the existence of Columbia Gorge Mathematical Society, and we start tutoring the AP calculus students from The Dalles High School. We celebrate Math Awareness Month by hosting two cookie tables and finalizing flyers for our club. I get accepted to Central and, through the hand of God, am actually excited about it.
A photo posted by Hannah (@hannahelisebarta) on

May: Anxiety attacks are becoming all too frequent, but little blessings along the way help scoot the quarter along. I get some much-needed time alone with housesitting, I attend the Honors Ceremony and the Phi Theta Kappa Induction Ceremony, and I count the weeks till this is all over.

June: The end has come of another year of college, and I'm done with my first year of calculus. I turn in my keys from my vice-presidential duties and say goodbye to my calculus classmates with a math club party. There are many tears shed over attachments made and losing people, and the news of more change is yet more difficult. I take on more hours at church by day, nanny by night, and watch two of my dearest friends graduate, with such poise and grace, from high school.
A photo posted by Hannah (@hannahelisebarta) on

July: The searing loss of a dear friend's husband shatters our hearts as soon as June ends. The very next day another friend celebrates a wedding. Memorial services for pillar members of my church are sprinkled across the month as I take on even more work with my church's custodian job, work fourteen-hour days, and acquire an illness made from fatigue, emotional sickness, and crappy eating habits. I start the process of apartment hunting in Ellensburg. I attempt to become more mindful, begin working out to Dollar Workout Club, and, at the end of the month, have a restful five days at the old Lakehouse.

August: The month begins badly with our water system shutting down, having to take showers and brush teeth at work, and coming to a climax in grief -- a climax which mercifully induces healing afterward. My substitute custodial job ends and I am back with a few hours more rest each day. Me and three of my best friends have an afternoon party at my house to celebrate/commemorate our imminent parting in September. Our youth group leaders take the four of us for a splendid night with lots of food and riverfront walking in Hood River. We find a Godsend of an apartment in Ellensburg and I finalize registration and talk with my prospective advisor about moving into the math major at Central.

September: So . Much . Change . and . So . Much . Heartache ., and yet somehow healing begins. I learn how to stand on my own two feet as I numbly take responsibility for my new one-bedroom apartment two blocks off the Central Washington University campus in Ellensburg. I grieve the necessary loss of friendships and old lifestyles, but manage to settle into my new math classes with some grace. I begin work as a writing tutor, meet about a hundred new people in my first week at school, and then quietly celebrate my twentieth birthday with my family at my new apartment.
A photo posted by Hannah (@hannahelisebarta) on

October: Every time I think I have some semblance of control, something happens to reassure me that I don't. I realize I can't fly by in linear algebra after all like I would have in any other class. I sign the papers to become a “real” math major, I work late hours, I talk to a few more people, and I slowly build friendships in and out of church. Life in Ellensburg feels a little more normal. My best friend Bex comes to visit for a few days near the end of the month and we talk and hang out and act silly.

November: The month that flies. I return home for the first time in eight weeks and face a torrent of emotions I never expected. I face the anxiety of my second test in linear algebra, am justly excited when I learned that I aced it, go on a hike in Leavenworth with some of my new church family, help at a math outreach event in Thorp, help at a math outreach event on campus, attend Geoffrey Burleson's piano concert at Central, and slowly get to know my coworkers more. I get a haircut, have a good few days back home during Thanksgiving seeing family, then go back to face only two more weeks of linear algebra before I'm done.
A photo posted by Hannah (@hannahelisebarta) on

December: A beautiful month adorned with Christmas lights and the quietude of softly falling snow. My apartment is a mess because studying > cleaning. I give my presentation on Fibonacci numbers in Math 299S, take my Math 260 final, and perform excellently in both. Yikes, it's cold outside! I prepare with much fear and many tears for my linear algebra final and have to come to terms with the fact that my GPA will not always be a 4.0. I learn after I come home that I got an A- in linear algebra and I want to jump up and down, I am so happy. The first few days at home are a difficult adjustment, but as the month goes by, as we celebrate Christmas and the entire family is together, I settle so firmly back in that I don't want to leave on the first day of 2017. I get together with my girls, message and call and email back and forth with my dear Bex about her impending wedding, and organize stuff for application for REUs and scholarships. I see Rogue One with cousins and slide on ice in the car (scary). And then suddenly . . . it's goodbye to 2016, a busy year, a hard year, a horrible year, a wonderful year.

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

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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