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. But there’s a world of categories and ranks with change. Good, bad, ugly, exciting or terrifying; change 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 those defining moments in my life, and in seeking to understand their emotional depth, I’ve observed how the emotional roots of transformative change are connected by their grade of intensity. I’ve understood that New Beginnings share Similar Emotions…

Some messy emotions that emerge when we deal with grief, loss, or when we stand powerless next to incurable illnesses; in a certain way, are mysteriously interlaced with the ones that emerge from uprooting a life and it’s adjusting course— 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, unlabelled 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 is 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 immersed in thorough research. Against time, devouring every piece of knowledge from the experts, as you do your best to ‘prepare’ for what’s coming (whatever you may think prepare is at that moment). Yet, while in the path to hell, as you painfully witness your loved one’s final hours, those messy emotions will hit you so hard, the whole ‘preparation’ will collapse in front of you, far from reality.

Uprooting a life to places sometimes extremely different form your familiar world with different culture, lifestyle or language— even with small-scale differences as driving on the other side, dress code or public behavior, can too 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 pain from losing someone, or dealing with a terminal diagnosis have. As I can never take away the challenging summit uprooting a life is. But I’ve found that in the mysterious emotional connection they share, there’s also a hidden gift, an opportunity.


As one of many life’s mysteries, even painful events offer gifts to help us transform them, the way a craftsman creates bauty out of metal.

They offer the opportunity for us to learn with wisdom and become the craftsman of our journey. Tearing apart adversity and challenges to find the gifts; 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 attempt to slow it down; change will move on with its own plans. Our best choice is to learn from it and move along, adapting 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, you’ll end up missing out the one 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.

The building blocks of really listening — replacing the ‘wrap up the story honey’, or ‘hurry up, it’s time to go to sleep’, with being fully present, making eye contact, being there with all of ourselves. Perhaps in slowing down our internal clock of rush-living need, piling up way many todo’s in our day, we miss out the simplicity of living. Or missing building blocks because we’re too busy looking thru other people’s windows.

Transitions are the lessons. They bring the material, tools and the 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.

Gabriela O'Malley