The Wisdom of Change and Transitions

By Gabriela O’Malley

Change is good. I like change; the one that invites me to stretch my abilities and spotlights my growing edge. There’s a world of categories and ranks with change. Good, bad, ugly, exciting or terrifying; undoubtedly impacts us and our lives. Sometimes, even transforming us forever.

I’ve been transformed by this force a few times when change arrived and alter it all. Invited, self-created and unexpected, these life-defining moments and chapters have put me thru long periods of transition so deep, it’s taken me years to bring the lessons learned back to the surface.

In this process of rescuing lessons, I’ve learned that introspection and reflection take practice as self-observers. Not only to bring out our unique voice through this overwhelming noisy world of ours, but as I recently learned from a woman I deeply admire — to separate the voice that speaks from our wounds from the one that speaks from our scars. That’s where the wisdom resides.

Time is the shepherd of our journeys.


In making sense of my life’s defining moments and understanding their emotional depth, I’ve observed how the emotional roots in shaking and transformative change are connected in their grade of intensity.

Some messy emotions that emerge when we deal with grief, loss or when we stand powerless next to incurable illnesses, are interlaced with the ones that emerge from uprooting a life and the adapting process to loads of news’s that comes with it — building a new life from ground up along with building yourself.

Losing loved ones carries the heaviest load in grieving. It’s radical, definite and final. It’s the beginning of a new forever. I remember the appalling feeling when I was told that my father was not traveling, as I had been told for years; but that he in fact, had passed away months after I was born. I was five years old, and this would be the first time I’d experience the beginning of a new forever.

Twenty-two years later was the second time, when my mother passed after losing her seven-year battle to breast cancer.

Grieving, isn’t only about missing our loved ones immensely, but is also about mourning the life we once had and all that was part of it. It is in this context, how separating one life from another, as it occurs in relocation, that we experience the heaviness of not having all we wish we could have taken with us to our new world.

Each one of us own our one-of-a-kind journey of experiencing emotions. How you should or should not feel is not for public debate, but an intimate dialogue between your soul and your heart. Unmeasurable, unlabeled and too big to be trapped in the box of logic. Love and pain are forces that can only be measured by the depth of how we experience them with our fingerprints.


An incurable illness carries the heaviest load of adapting. It’s inevitable and unavoidable. Offers no way out. It’s shocking, loaded with uncertainty, a pile of ignorance and so much hopelessness, anger, exhaustion and frustration. You can spend years in thorough research. Against time, try to absorb every piece of knowledge from the experts and do your best to prepare for what’s coming. Yet, the messy emotions while in the path to hell, to witnessing your loved one’s final hours, will hit you so hard, the whole preparation will blatantly fall far from reality.

Uprooting a life to places sometimes extremely different form your familiar world with different language, culture, lifestyle — even as standard as driving on the other side, dress code or public behavior, can pull messy emotional triggers you could not be prepared enough for.

Especially when you embrace them without a supportive network and many times partnerless, if your other half is gone most of the time traveling or working long hours.

All the research, interviews, books, onsite visits and everything else part of your preparation, may give you a glimpse through the future; yet, will feel far from what you’ll experience as you climb the period of shock, frustration, loneliness and many times uncertainty, that comes with launching a new life, in a new territory, where you don’t speak the official language or know anyone.

Time is the shepherd of our journeys.


I can never take away the enormous weight of pain losing someone or dealing with a terminal diagnosis have. As I can never take away the challenging sumit uprooting a life is. In my efforts to find the lessons thru understanding the depth of pain and tough challenges, I’ve found what they offer.

They offer a gift, an opportunity.


Somehow, life has allowed you to experience certain events that have alter your world. With your consent or not, still, as one of many life’s mysteries, they offer you the gift to transform them the way a craftsman transforms metal into art.

They offer the opportunity for us to learn with wisdom and become the craftsman of our journey. Turning adversity and challenges into a treasure; one, that would may one day serve for a greater purpose.

Does experience make us more resilients? It can. I would say that experience partners with wisdom, patience and endurance. Just knowing a little more than you did yesterday. Authenticity, when you speak from your wise well of lessons. Experience is the foundation to genuine empathy, understanding and connection with others.


Change is transformation. A beautiful opportunity filled with mystery and wisdom. Perhaps change is not the enemy, but our friend and allied. It exists to remind us that nothing is forever. That this precise moment is all we own and is up to you and me to seize it.

Change is our teacher. It crafts the seasons around us to reflect time and art. It’s Master of Itself. No matter how hard we try to submit, control or slow it down, change will move on with its own plans. The best we can do is to move along with it and adapt to what it brings.

There is no learning in resisting, but un-learning. You’ll be too occupied and preoccupied using your energy and time trying to control what you can’t, skipping the only thing you own — your present moment.

The building blocks you need to learn how to manage change and transitions are exactly there, in the ever-present moments of your existence. In paying attention to whatever they bring.

Replacing rushing our kids with ‘wrap up the story honey’, or ‘hurry up, it’s time to go to sleep’ with listening to them making eye contact and with all of ourselves; really listening to what they are so desperately and excited wanting to share with us. Perhaps in slowing down our internal clock of living in a rush; piling up way too many todo’s in our day we miss the simplicity of living. Or missing building blocks we need because we’re too busy looking thru other people’s windows.

Transitions are the lessons. They bring the material, tools and knowledge we’ll need to embrace or survive the force that turned our life upside down. We have to seat thru them, pay attention, listen, and step by step, apply what we’re learning.

Between failing and sprinting, life goes on and if we give it a chance, we might embrace or survive the beginning of our new forever being fully present.

Savor each moment wherever you are