How to know you’re a grownup

I already have a wish list. I was hoping, soon, to make a wish book — a blank notebook where, aside from my list, I could also paste, staple, glue photos of all the things I want to buy, for myself, our home, my loved ones. I visit the Neiman Marcus, Tod’s and Bergdorf Goodman websites. I also go to eluxury.com. I salivate over the breathtaking Christian Loboutin shoes, the beautiful Donna Karan, Carolina Herrera, Diane von Furstenberg, Calvin Klein dresses and gowns. And don’t get me started on the bags. Oh, the bags! I go to Ethan Allen and Furnitalia and I so many items there have my name written on them. If money grew on trees, I’d probably buy, among all the things I saw and loved, those that still run through my mind when I try to go to sleep at night. That’s still a lot.

But just a few days ago, while Juliana was taking a bath, I heard Yaya Lita mumbling and crying. Yaya LIta, who has been with Richard for more years than we have been married and is already family to us, was crying copious tears. A relative of hers had sold her carabao and she just found out about it (she hails from Zamboanga). A month before that I also found Helen, Yaya Lita’s niece who also works for us, crying because her pigs got washed away during the flood.

“P13,000 yung bili ko ng kalabaw, ma’am!” she told me. “Please give Yaya Lita a new carabao for her birthday, Mommy,” said Juliana, who loves her yaya so much. Helen was relying on breeding those pigs and selling them for added family income.

Now, how can I, in conscience, think of buying even half a Loboutin right now? Why am I telling you this? Because I just realized that I am not as impulsive as I used to be. Even before the whole carabao and pigs episode, I was never shop-happy. My dad would probably faint if he knew how much my designer jeans and Paul Smith tailored pants cost. I know he would say that Nestor can do a far better job for maybe even a tenth of the price (Nestor was our forever tailor, who made pants that fit so well and so perfectly). I grew up seeing Manoy Nestor every so often in our house in Ormoc, but he has since passed. He was a world-class talent, let me tell you. Nor does Daddy know how exorbitant designer bags can be — thank God.

There was a time when I really itched to own all that I wanted to have. But in the same way that I can happily window-shop, I can do the same online. I can look but not necessarily click and buy. Sure, I’ll splurge once in a while, but there are many things I can live without. Yes, I am all grown up because I really do not have to have every material thing my heart desires. Sometimes, dreaming about them is happiness enough. Looking at beautiful things can already be a joy in itself.

It’s nothing profound, but this insight has spawned the list I am sharing with you today. I’d love for you to make your own list, too. It’s actually fun, and you might end up surprising even yourself.

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I know I am all grown up because:

1. I do not have to have everything I want.

2. I take saving for the future (seriously).

3. I think about how life will be tomorrow.

4. When the situation calls for it, I choose to be productive rather than sleep an extra hour.

5. I actually ask God to help me honestly forgive those who hurt me (on my own, that can be hard to do).

6. I can pray for and honestly wish the meanies well.

7. I can let a lot of things go.

8. I can laugh at — even celebrate — my mistakes.

9. I only want a wash-and-wear hairstyle (makes life so much easier).

10. I choose quality over quantity.

11. Simplifying life is not an option — it is the only choice.

12. I truly welcome reunions because you want to touch base with people.

13. I don’t fret too much about eating too big a slice of caramel cake.

14. I make wish lists but they are just that: wish lists. They do not direct my life.

15. When you appreciate your dreams.

16. You laugh at yourself.

17. I don’t take life and myself too seriously.

18. I know that love is not a light word.

19. I can and will go out of my way to brighten a lonely person’s day.

20. It is a peaceful thought to know that not everything is about you.

21. I know that pretty flowers tucked in a vase on a table in your home does more than just make your room look pretty.

22. Living, like homekeeping, is a lovely art.

23. Comfort matters.

24. Not very many things embarrass me anymore.

25. I appreciate rituals and traditions enough to do what I can to make them live on.

26. Wine actually tastes good.

27. I care about what happens to our country.

28. I don’t make impulsive purchases.

29. I really want to learn the basics of cooking and swimming and driving, just in case.

30. Traveling is not just all about shopping.

31. I have learned to budget.

32. I also know that “no budget” does not necessarily mean “no money.”

33. Spending hard-earned money pinches.

34. I start remembering and applying all that Mom and Dad have taught me.

35. I have learned to really linger over a cup of coffee.

36. I savor experiences, moments, people.

37. I live the present moment as fully as I can.

38. There is this urge to stretch beyond your comfort zone.

39. The fear of failure does not stop you from trying out new things.

40. I have started using an eye cream that really works.

41. I know the value of saying no.

42. I will go out of my way to validate people.

43. I can find it in myself to gracefully acknowledge all the lessons buried beneath every pain.

44. I know what I will and will not wear.

45. I can be unapologetic about my choices.

46. I accept people as they are.

47. I have learned to celebrate the body I was born with.

48. I look for and appreciate order — on the road, at home, in my life.

49. When trying out new things, maskipaps can be more and more an option, and a happy one at that.

50. When peace of mind is a most premium possession, and a most desirable goal.

51. I choose my battles.

52. It’s easy for me to choose to rise above petty people, petty situations.

53. I can guiltlessly weed out toxic people and things from my life.

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