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Life is like a batch of ... cinnamon rolls?

I know many believe in Forest Gump’s line, “Life is like a box of chocolates,” but I’m here to tell you I think life is like a batch of cinnamon rolls. When done right, the delightful pastries come out of the oven filling your house with the heavenly aroma of cinnamon and freshly-baked rolls that are deliciously light, chewy and to die for good. Basically, they epitomize success; living life at its finest.

The process of getting them there,though, is another story entirely ...

I don’t have too many things on my summer bucket list this year. I’ve had a few exciting, spontaneous moments with friends, and I’d like to attend a few country concerts and go boating and tubing for the first time. But other than that, anything out of the ordinary will be a surprise to me. Which is completely fine, considering I love surprises! Well, on second thought, please nobody surprise me by crashing into the rear end of my car again ... but that’s another story for another day.

I do have one simpler goal this summer, though: learn to become a successful cinnamon roll baker. This might seem silly to some of you bakers out there, but for some reason, I have never had success with the little monsters.

I will add, though, that yeast is not my best friend either. I’ve had it work for me a few times, but I am not a patient person, so kneading for five minutes, waiting for the rising to take place, rolling everything out, and then waiting for some more rising just isn’t always up my alley ... but three of the things I love are baking, good cinnamon rolls and a good challenge.

So, I’m determined to make it happen.

This is where I feel like the process relates to life. It is a long process, and there are a lot of steps, but if you do it right, then you will end up with something beautiful in the end.

First things first — you have to have all of the right ingredients, and the absolute most important one is faith and determination. Without believing that you can do something you won’t get anywhere. After that, it’s a little different for everyone, and some people aren’t fortunate enough to have everything they need; but with a little work and creativity, it will usually work out. And sometimes the end product will be even better than imagined!

Next, after the ingredients are all mixed up comes the kneading. Life is hard, and it takes time. It wasn’t meant to be a joy ride, rather something that we have to work at in order to make us stronger and to help us better enjoy the satisfaction of our labors. Don’t skimp on the work, because shortcuts, while seeming good at the time, can leave us with some very bad or disappointing baggage later.

And then there’s the waiting ... my very impatient self already squirms at the idea of it, but I want light, fluffy rolls, so I better buck up right now. My last batch of rolls were a little denser than I wished, so I know I shouldn’t have been in such a hurry on the second rising ...

They weren’t lying when they said patience is a virtue. These days everyone is rushing around, trying to make everything happen ASAP. It’s good to be efficient, but too much haste leads to forgetting important pieces and end products that sometimes just fall apart.

Then it gets a little more exciting (sometimes a little frustrating): Rolling out the dough, sprinkling on the cinnamon and sugar, and rolling up some more. I’ve always struggled with my dough sticking to the counter, and then everything seems to stick to everything else and proceeds to fall apart from there. My last attempt went really well, though, so I’m having hope!

That’s pretty much life in a nutshell, exciting and frustrating. I’ve learned, though, that anything worth doing is worth the work, so take the opportunity when it comes even if it requires a little effort or stepping out of your comfort zone. And don’t be afraid to add a little extra thrill (a surprise raisin or walnut is always pleasant!) every now and then.

Smiles and laughter are the best medicines out there.

After a little more waiting, rising and baking, the real fun begins. The scent of fresh, hot, cinnamony goodness wafting through the house is only the beginning!

My favorite topping is a good cream cheese frosting. Yummmmm. After spreading it on thick, I can hardly wait to test out my masterpiece, except I haven’t been satisfied with any of my test runs yet, but there again is another part of life.

Failure is bound to hit sometime. Yes, it’s disappointing, but that’s when I need to pick myself up, learn from the fall, and smile at the memories. I’ve had a few failed attempts at my cinnamon roll journey now, but you better bet that I don’t plan to give up! My last batch wasn’t too bad, but I know I can do better. Just like my life. I think I’ve done pretty well so far, but I’ve definitely screwed up on some things, and I know I can do a whole lot better if I really put my mind to it. And I can’t wait to see what’s ahead of me!

Hopefully at least one batch of absolutely-to-die-for cinnamon rolls this summer!

Danae Ross, 18, of Wyanet is a senior at Bureau Valley High School She can be reached at diamondspride30@yahoo.com.

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