'Say Yes to the Dress' star Lori Allen: How to 'say yes' to what's next amid uncertainty

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Singer-songwriter June Carter-Cash said it best when she said, “I’m just trying to matter.”

So many of my generation have been looking at ourselves in the mirror lately and wondering where do we go from here? What have we done with our lives? Do we even matter?

COVID-19 barreled into our world and turned it upside down, forcing all of us to pivot in the face of a global pandemic, where we are suddenly living our lives minute-to-minute, hour-by-hour, day by day.


For the Baby Boomer generation, we have been told to shelter-in-place to keep safe, forcing so many of us to reevaluate everything from physically going to work to rethinking our post-retirement plans.

There’s just no way to sugar coat our current state of affairs; it's a challenge right now for anyone, but particularly for those of us who were on the cusp of making some much-needed changes to our lives.

For at least the foreseeable future, flexibility is going to be key. You can still find purpose and meaning in life even on a smaller scale!

So how does one say yes to what's next amid so much uncertainty?

Life has thrown me more than my fair share of curveballs, which was part of the inspiration behind my new book "Say Yes to What’s Next."

I was diagnosed with breast cancer the morning my husband, Eddie, was scheduled to have surgery to remove his cancerous tumor.

My sudden health crisis couldn’t have come at a worse time; I was busy running my bridal salon, Bridals by Lori, supporting my daughter who just had a baby, helping my elderly parents navigate life in their early 80s, and shooting a new season of "Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta" for TLC.

I honestly had no time for breast cancer in my life, heck I didn’t even have time for the mammogram that saved my life! And while it wasn't on the same scale as this pandemic, it did force me to rethink my future and figure out exactly how I wanted to live the rest of my life.

The most important life decision I made post-breast cancer treatment was to move forward with my future even if it looked a bit differently than I had expected.

Lori Allen
(Andy Baxter Photography)

I had a lot of healing ahead of me after my double mastectomy, and I honestly didn’t know if I would ever be able to go back to my high-energy, intense lifestyle.

I shifted some expectations though and thrived. And in our COVID-19 era, I draw heavily upon that strength from my breast cancer battle to continue to thrive.

I know that I'm not the only one who has decided to move forward with their future, even if they have to tweak a few of their expectations along the way.

Holly, a nurse on the COVID-19 frontlines at Vanderbilt hospital, decided to move forward with her wedding even though it was not the wedding she had originally envisioned.

For Holly, the importance of the marriage superseded her wedding vision, and with some changes, she is going to have a beautiful, memorable wedding day full of love and happiness.

For at least the foreseeable future, flexibility is going to be key. You can still find purpose and meaning in life even on a smaller scale!

Volunteer to help in your community, or with your neighbors.

If you were hoping to either retrain for a new career or go back to school for some uncredited advanced learning, look instead for online courses.

Don't let this global pandemic delay a new health, wellness, or exercise program.

I was never a gym-goer and have always preferred working out at home; fortunately, there are so many great workout programs that don't require expensive equipment or much more than a mat and some free weights.


I also love my daily walks with my Bichon puppy, Chloe. It combines fresh air with exercise, and the added perk of safely socializing with my neighbors and fellow dog owners is always beneficial to your mental and physical health. And if you haven't already, reschedule that mammogram or physical exam that was canceled during quarantine.

Taking a gondola ride down the Venice canals or running with the bulls of Pamplona is just not in the cards these days, but you don’t need to book a flight to Italy to travel and experience new cultures and cuisines.

When was the last time you traveled to a new state in the U.S.? You can still sample authentic dim sum in San Francisco’s Chinatown, snack on cannoli’s at Ferrara’s in Manhattan’s Little Italy, or fall in love with creole cooking in New Orleans.

You can pack up and drive across country with your partner, best friend, and children to camp and hike, visit outdoor monuments, learn about historical moments that happened on American soil, and make some new, homegrown memories.

There’s always a silver lining in life’s challenges, and COVID-19 has forced many of us to get in touch with our inner selves.

We've spent months discovering ourselves: our likes and dislikes, asking the hard question of where we want to be in 5-10 years.

We took up new hobbies and discovered new interests, connected with friends, family members, and we slowed down and became more introspective.


We have decided what matters and how we want the next chapter of our lives to matter.

So that once it's safe to return to life as we once knew it, we'll be poised and ready to say yes to what's next!

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