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Questions for Reflection
In each episode, we offer you a few prompts to think about how that day's conversation applies to you. Our supporters over at Buy Me a Coffee now have exclusive access to the PDF versions of all our Questions for Reflection. Join us today!
Beth Demme (00:03):
Welcome to the Discovering Our Scars Podcast.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (00:05):
Where we share personal experiences so we can learn from each other. I'm Steph.
Beth Demme (00:09):
And I'm Beth.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (00:10):
I've been in recovery for 15 years and am the author of Discovering My Scars, my memoir about what's done in the darkness eventually comes to light.
Beth Demme (00:16):
I'm a lawyer turned pastor who's all about self-awareness and emotional health, because I know what it's like to have neither of those things.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (00:22):
Beth and I have been friends for years have gone through a recovery program together. And when I wanted to start a podcast, she was the only name that came to mind as co-host.
Beth Demme (00:29):
I didn't hesitate to say yes because I've learned a lot from sharing personal experiences with Steph over the years.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (00:34):
We value honest conversations and we hope you do too.
Beth Demme (00:37):
On today's show, we're going to have an honest conversation titled "Has the World Changed for Good?"
Stephanie Kostopoulos (00:43):
Then we'll share a slice of life and the show will close with questions for reflection where we'll invite you to reflect on the conversation in your own life.
Beth Demme (00:50):
What do you think Steph, has the world changed for good? Like as in a good way, as in permanently, as in all the ways?
Stephanie Kostopoulos (00:58):
All the things. I would agree with that, in all the things. Well, first of all, I don't love that we're continuing to talk about pandemic. So we did a whole bunch of pandemic stuff. We've talked about this. I'm kind of like, "Aren't we done?"
Beth Demme (01:13):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (01:15):
Are we done with this conversation for good?
Beth Demme (01:18):
Well, I will say, in church on Sunday, I announced that we were shifting to mask optional and my congregation clapped. And they're not like ... They're not like a clapping congregation. You know what I mean?
Stephanie Kostopoulos (01:35):
Oh my gosh, that is the sound bite for this episode. Wow. I don't even know what to say to that. That ...
Beth Demme (01:43):
And I said, "Don't clap, because when the guidance changes, we will change too."
Stephanie Kostopoulos (01:49):
Oh my goodness. I don't even know what to say to that. Wow. Well, it's interesting because if I was in your congregation and you had said that ... Well, first of all, I wouldn't be there because I don't feel comfortable being inside with people. So wouldn't have been there to I ... but I think I would've looked around appalled that everyone was clapping. Like this has not just happened. I probably would've walked out and been like, "No, you are not my people that you clapped at that."
Beth Demme (02:14):
Well, we sit pretty far apart. That may be part of it. And also, I don't think they were wearing masks in other parts of their lives. I think they were only wearing them-
Stephanie Kostopoulos (02:23):
Because of you?
Beth Demme (02:24):
At church, because it was still required.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (02:26):
Because of you.
Beth Demme (02:28):
Well, me and the leadership, I mean, we decided-
Stephanie Kostopoulos (02:30):
Aren't you, the leadership?
Beth Demme (02:31):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (02:31):
Isn't it a small church?
Beth Demme (02:33):
It is a small church, but I will say for this, I did not go rogue. I consulted with ... Okay. So what really happened is I consulted with just one leader. And then I will say last night we had a leadership meeting and it came up and somebody was like, "Why weren't we all consulted?" And I was like, "You weren't all consulted because this is a decision that was in place. You were already masking when I came here and that had been a pastoral decision. And so it remained a pastoral decision. But I did talk to so and so, and so and so said ..." So then we had a formal vote by the leadership to go mask optional.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (03:09):
But in a church, the buck stops with the pastor.
Beth Demme (03:12):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (03:13):
If you decide ... I mean, and I guess that wouldn't have gone ever well to say, "it doesn't matter what you think, because I'm the pastor."
Beth Demme (03:19):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (03:20):
That's what I would've said, but that's why I'm not a pastor.
Beth Demme (03:22):
If we had not gone mask optional, I think people would've been complaining. I mean, they've already, they've been grumbling for a while.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (03:31):
Well, I mean, and I guess that brings us to the CDC and why ... I don't think you had any option, but to go optional.
Beth Demme (03:42):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (03:42):
I think that was your only option is to be optional because the CDC has literally said you don't need a mask anymore.
Beth Demme (03:48):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (03:49):
So how are you to say, "Well, God told me we still need a mask. So I am better than the CDC because God told me." Is that what you said?
Beth Demme (03:56):
I mean, all along, I've been saying, "We're going to follow the guidance. We're gonna follow the science. And so when the CDC says, 'Yeah, in your area ...'" I mean, we went from high on one Friday to the next Friday when the report came out, all of a sudden we were low. And so we went from mask required, even for vaccinated people to ... There was no middle step. We didn't go high, medium, low. We went mask required to masks are completely optional. If you're immunocompromised, do what your doctor says, which is no guidance at all, basically. So yeah, I didn't have any backing, anything that I could rely on, anything I could point to be like, "Well, actually, because of this, we need to remain mask mandatory."
Stephanie Kostopoulos (04:37):
So that's interesting. If you had been sitting here in your congregation and the pastor had said that, would you have clapped?
Beth Demme (04:44):
It's hard for me to say, because I can't see it from outside my lens, but I think I would've thought, "Makes sense that we're following the guidance."
Stephanie Kostopoulos (04:51):
Would you have clapped?
Beth Demme (04:52):
I wouldn't have clapped. I don't think I would've clapped, but I would've been like, "Okay, I have a choice. I can still wear a mask if I want. Nobody's telling me I can't wear a mask."
Stephanie Kostopoulos (05:01):
Would you have been taken aback by the clappers or you'd have just been like, "Okay. Yeah."
Beth Demme (05:06):
No, yeah. I think if I had just been in the congregation, I don't think it would've surprised me at all. I think they've been over it for a minute, and just been like, "No, no, we have to continue to do this."
Stephanie Kostopoulos (05:16):
Well, no, I mean, I think America has been over it for many minutes.
Beth Demme (05:20):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (05:22):
I mean, I'm over it. What I mean, when I say I'm over it, I mean I'm over fighting it, I'm over questioning it. When I go in somewhere, I put my mask on. I don't think about it. And I do that. And when I had a friend the other day that came over and was like, "Oh, you want to go to lunch?" And I was like, "Uh-"
Beth Demme (05:39):
How do I do that?
Stephanie Kostopoulos (05:40):
"It's been so long since I've done that." And I was like, "Outside. Can we eat outside?" Like, "Sure. Yeah." And I was like, "Okay. Okay." And so we figured out where to go, that we could eat outside. And when we were inside ordering, I put my mask on. She put hers on, ordered, went outside. No big deal, but it's so strange because I haven't done that a long time.
Beth Demme (06:03):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (06:04):
But I think that's what the world is now is we get to make those choices and we decide ... For me, I'm still wearing my mask inside. It's not a hardship to do that. It never was for me. It just, it is. I'm going to do it and I'm going to keep myself and others safe as best I can. But then I can make those decisions like, "Okay, yeah. I'm going to go eat with a friend and I can do that now." And I have way less stress than ever before for the last two year that I've had. But see on for you though, you have been eating restaurants.
Beth Demme (06:42):
Yeah. We've been going out to restaurants.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (06:44):
And you've been comfortable with that?
Beth Demme (06:45):
Yes. Yeah. And we're in this situation, and I think this happens to us a lot in this day and age, you might say, but where we have a lot of information. But it doesn't create clarity, it creates confusion.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (07:00):
Beth Demme (07:01):
So the data now is that places that required more masking and shut down schools earlier, I was just reading this in the New York Times this morning, actually I'll put a link to in the show notes. But they didn't have transmission rates that were that different places that didn't have those requirements. It seems like vaccination is the big difference in terms of whether or not deaths result. But in terms of transmission, it's hard ... It doesn't seem like we really know how to mitigate that.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (07:32):
Yeah. I mean, I would think if back two years ago, if you were to ask me, "In two years, what will we know about this?" I probably would've been like, "Well, we'll be looking back and we'll ... da, da, da." But we're just pretty much in the same confusion that we were in the first place. We still don't really have answers. We still don't know where the freaking thing came from. And we don't know how to stop it.
Beth Demme (07:59):
Aren't they pretty sure it came from the market though. I feel like I just read that recently that they ...
Stephanie Kostopoulos (08:03):
The market or the lab?
Beth Demme (08:06):
No, I think it came from the market.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (08:07):
I've heard both, from reputable sources.
Beth Demme (08:10):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (08:10):
And I haven't heard any definitive.
Beth Demme (08:12):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (08:13):
I have not heard anything definitive about it. I mean, I stopped following because of like, "Okay, just when you know, let me know please. When you know for sure." Because everything I've seen has been like, "We're still wondering." But maybe there is something I just haven't [crosstalk 00:08:28].
Beth Demme (08:28):
It's hard to know what I know because so often I only have time to read the headlines, but I feel like there was a report that just came out from the US government that said it definitely came from the market. But like you're saying, who knows. Next week it could be different information.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (08:44):
Beth Demme (08:44):
We have lots of information and no more clarity.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (08:46):
But see that's the thing is we are pretty informed people. You are very informed and you don't really know, you think you know, but you're not really sure. If we really knew, I think we would all be very clear on that. And if both of us are like, "I'm not sure," then I don't think there's clarity on that. There's really no clarity on anything. There's not even clarity on masks. Like you just said, the research is telling us, "Well, it didn't really make a difference." To me, it's a physical, tangible thing I can do to try. And so to me it's worth doing, but to somebody else, it may not worth be worth doing based on their life attitude or based on the research. I don't know.
Beth Demme (09:28):
Right. And like you're saying, it's not a chore. It's not a chore for you. It's not a chore for me, and so we do it.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (09:37):
Beth Demme (09:37):
And we can continue to do it. And we're at a place where we have to be okay with other people, not doing it because that's how society is functioning.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (09:47):
We always had to be that way though. There was never a time where I was somewhere and everyone was wearing a mask. I've never been in a place like that. Well, maybe Disney. Disney was the only place where they were enforcing it, actually. Because even stores when it was required, air quotes, there were still people not wearing them. So Beth, it's been two years. It's pretty much been two years. We're in March now. And so the shutdown happened two years ago. So where are you now compared to two years ago?
Beth Demme (10:19):
I'm definitely not as scared of COVID as I was two years ago. I mean, when it first was happening in March of 2020, I remember thinking, "If you get this virus, it is a death sentence." I understand a little bit better now, especially post vaccination, that, okay, we do have ways to minimize the impact that this has. And so I choose to be vaccinated and boosted and will continue to get boosters. And I'm glad that we can do that. Other than that, I'm not sure.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (10:54):
Do you think you've changed as a person because of this?
Beth Demme (10:57):
I'm not sure. Do you think you've changed as a person?
Stephanie Kostopoulos (11:01):
I do. I don't think we can come out of this without being changed in some way. I do think, at least for me, I don't think there was any way I could come out and not be changed. I'm an introvert. And so I get my energy from being alone and I'm not someone that really needs to be around people a lot. So for me, the not interacting with people was a pretty easy concept. But also, I do need to be with people because I'm a human being.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (11:33):
And that is something that I started to realize during the pandemic, is how can I be with people but not be with people? And I started doing Zooms with my lady friends, which we now call ourselves the Golden Ladies. And then I started looking at other ways that I could hang out with people, but do things outdoors. And so I actually got into hiking and I went hiking. I actually, I went to Gainesville a couple times. I went hiking with a friend of mine from college. So I was real committed to it. I was like, "I'm going to be with people in a safe way." And then I started kayaking, which is my new love is kayaking. And I got my own kayak and I've just been making friends, going kayaking, and being able to be with people, but in a safe way. So that's definitely something that I don't think I would've gotten into that to this level if the pandemic hadn't happened. I always wanted to be into it. But I just ... I don't think I would've ever gone that far with it.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (12:37):
But I'm curious because like I said, being away from people was not a huge issue for me, especially at the beginning. But I know you being extrovert and you get energy from being around multiple types of people, was that a challenge for you?
Beth Demme (12:52):
It was a challenge to get that energy through Zoom, because I never had a period where I felt isolated, because the church I was working at at the time immediately went to Zoom meetings. And then it was like everybody and their brother wanted to have a Zoom meeting. And so I felt like I was on Zoom six hours a day, which was exhausting in its own way. I mean, if I've changed, it probably has been that I've learned how to Zoom.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (13:23):
Beth Demme (13:23):
You know what I mean? And I don't just mean the technology of how to set up a camera, but how to have a conversation on Zoom or how to communicate on Zoom or how to learn on Zoom. All of those skills have grown definitely over the last couple of years, but also I've learned that it's not an absolute replacement for everything, that I do need to be in physical spaces with people. Two years ago, if you had asked me, I think I would've said, "Oh, it would be so much more relaxing to just video conference all day than to be in an actual room with people." And that is not true for me. I would much rather be in the physical space with people.
Beth Demme (14:06):
We had our first in-person gathering of pastors in this last couple of years recently, just a couple of weeks ago. And some of the people I had only interacted with by Zoom, and I totally misjudged how tall or how not tall some people are. And it was like, "Oh yeah. I feel like I didn't really know you at all because I didn't ... I've only seen you from the chin up or whatever." Yeah. So I just ... I probably underestimated how important in-person gatherings are to me.
Beth Demme (14:45):
I think that the way people look at church, including people like me (pastors) look at church, has changed. And I think ultimately that's going to be good, that for the church to have a reckoning with the reality that when people didn't connect through online worship and they just disconnected from worship altogether, they didn't feel like their lives really changed. The church has to come to terms with that and ask itself some hard questions about why is that? What do we think we were offering that we weren't offering? So all of those are things that have been on my mind, but I don't necessarily feel like those are ways that I've changed. It's more like things that I've learned.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (15:31):
Well, where do you think we are as a global society, two years later?
Beth Demme (15:37):
Do you think we feel more connected somehow? I mean, do you think that there's a sense of something that starts in one place, a virus that starts in one place in the world can work its way around the world pretty quickly through travel, through trade, through whatever the ways are that germs travel. I mean, I would hope that would lead to a sense of greater connectedness.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (16:03):
I would say on some level, yeah. Because we can all speak different languages and have different cultural ideals and things like that. But there's been times when I've seen a news report of England or New Zealand or something, and they're talking about COVID, and I was like, "Oh," and how they ... The shutdown or how they feel. And I'm like, "I can relate to that." It's something that we can all relate to. And I do think it has brought the world smaller, has made the world smaller and more tangible in like, "Oh, you're like me. We can relate to the same thing even though we don't speak the same language. We can still have some of the same fears and unknowns and things like that.
Beth Demme (16:49):
It has been a really interesting example of a globally-shared experience.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (16:55):
Beth Demme (16:56):
That I'm not just off the top of my head can't think of another thing that has been a global, shared experience. Obviously 9/11 was a shared experience for Americans. And I think people in other parts of the world watched, but I don't think they experienced it the way that we did. I feel like everybody experienced COVID.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (17:14):
Yeah. I mean, I would think the only other equivalent would've been previous pandemics.
Beth Demme (17:19):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (17:20):
That we haven't lived through. Yeah. And even having experienced 9/11 myself as an American, this is totally different.
Beth Demme (17:27):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (17:27):
This is two years after ... Although, I mean, things did change after 9/11 for sure, that had impact on all of us, but yeah. Two years after 9/11 versus two years after the start of COVID, I feel like I'm in a different place than I was. I mean, I remember my sense of security all changed after 9/11 and feeling safe in big public spaces. But I think the pandemic affected me more personally than 9/11 did, on a different level.
Beth Demme (18:00):
Yeah. Or even if ... I mean, even something like a world war where a lot of countries were involved, I still think that this is different because we all kind of experienced it in almost the same way.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (18:14):
Yeah. And we're talking about it like a retrospective, but we're still in it.
Beth Demme (18:19):
We're in it.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (18:21):
COVID is not like, "Okay, done. We're done with ... But I think the concept is two years after the start, where are we now? How are we moving on? And that's how I'm looking at life. Things are totally different now that we have a vaccine and now that we do have some answers. They may not be concrete answers, but we do know that the vaccine works. And we do know that it's a way to keep us from dying, like you said, from that.
Beth Demme (18:48):
Yeah. It's become endemic instead of pandemic, I think is the way I've heard the global health people talk about it, or the public health.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (18:55):
I don't think it's happened yet. Has that happened?
Beth Demme (18:58):
I think that's the shift that's happening.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (19:00):
But we are not there yet. I hadn't heard that we were there yet.
Beth Demme (19:03):
The last thing that I heard was that Omicron was sort of the linchpin in that shift, with those kinds of variants where a lot of people got them, but did not die and did not have to be hospitalized, that that's the shift to endemic, like the flu.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (19:22):
Beth Demme (19:23):
I mean COVID now will always be a thing.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (19:25):
Beth Demme (19:25):
I mean, coronavirus was already a thing before this. Right?
Stephanie Kostopoulos (19:28):
Well, coronavirus was a thing, but it was a to this level. It wasn't COVID-19.
Beth Demme (19:33):
Yeah. It wasn't COVID-19. It wasn't transmissible the way this one has been transmissible and it didn't wreak havoc on the human body the way that this one has.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (19:41):
Good news though, I haven't really been sick the last two years at all. I was just thinking that the other day. I was like ... Although you've been sick. You had an ear infection.
Beth Demme (19:48):
I got an ear infection and I remember thinking, "Oh right. I can get sick without COVID. Doesn't have to be COVID."
Stephanie Kostopoulos (19:57):
Did you get tested for COVID? Did you even consider that?
Beth Demme (19:59):
No, I mean, I went to the doctor and he was like, "You don't have any COVID symptoms."
Stephanie Kostopoulos (20:03):
Beth Demme (20:03):
And he was like, "I can look in your ear and see that it's an ear infection." So yeah.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (20:07):
But have there been any ... Would you say for you, has there been any positives from the last two years? Or would you just say, "Oh, it was the worst."
Beth Demme (20:14):
Oh no. I think there have been a lot of positives in the last two years. I mean, even, just watching you make new friends and start kayaking. That's been a positive just to see it from the outside. There have been positive changes in my husband. He's a happier person now than he was before the pandemic. He loves his work in a different way. He's able to let go of things. A lot of his work is with the hospitality industry. They pretty much shut down in 2020 and most of 2021. And so his business all, I mean basically shut down too. It didn't completely, it never completely stopped, but it went way, way, way, way down. And he realized that was okay. And so it's adjusted his perspective on work in a way that's much healthier now.
Beth Demme (21:02):
I think I was able to let go of some of the ways that I was almost ... Addicted might be too strong of a word, but I was really drawn to the idea of busyness. And then everything kind of stopped and it was like, "And I'm okay. I still have value even if I'm not busy 23 hours a day." I think that's been healthy.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (21:23):
Do you still think yes to everything? Your answer to this will you answer the question actually.
Beth Demme (21:29):
Yeah, I try. I still try to say yes. I was thinking about it, because recently I've said yes to two things. And I was like, "Oh no. I said yes. And I don't want to do these things." But I said it, so I will follow through. So I think I do probably still say ... That is my first go-to reaction is to say, "Yes."
Stephanie Kostopoulos (21:46):
My go-to reaction is not to say anything, is to process and think and to probably overthink and then really give my hard earned answer. And I would say 50-50, depending on what it is.
Beth Demme (22:00):
Yeah. I mean, I think it through too, but my guiding principle is, "How can I say yes to this?" Not, "Should I say yes to this?" Or, "Do I want to say yes to this? It's, "How do I get to yes?"
Stephanie Kostopoulos (22:14):
I want to do an episode where I just ask you questions and see if I can finally get a no.
Beth Demme (22:20):
No, I don't want to do that episode.
Beth Demme (22:22):
So Steph, where do you think we'll be two years from now with all this, March of 2024? Are you still wearing a mask?
Stephanie Kostopoulos (22:31):
Yeah. Well, first of all, are we still doing the podcast?
Beth Demme (22:35):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (22:35):
What do you think? Two years from now?
Beth Demme (22:38):
I mean, I'm a yes person. I'm going to say yes.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (22:41):
Beth is never going to finish in this podcast if she can't say no. I don't know how I feel about my co-host just being a yes lady. You're just, "Yes. Yes." I really process and think and like really ... And then ... But maybe I-
Beth Demme (22:57):
That's why we're good together.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (22:58):
But maybe I need to be more like you. I don't know.
Beth Demme (23:00):
That's why we're good together. You think things through-
Stephanie Kostopoulos (23:02):
It took me two years to say yes to another greyhound.
Beth Demme (23:06):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (23:07):
My vet told me-
Beth Demme (23:08):
Are you going to say yes to a third greyhound?
Stephanie Kostopoulos (23:09):
There are no more. There are no more. And no. I don't think I would say yes. Two, though, I'm so glad I said yes to a second one. Two is way better than one. It's crazy. First of all, will we still be doing the podcast in two years? I don't even have to ask you because you're going to say yes, because that's your go to.
Beth Demme (23:26):
What would you say?
Stephanie Kostopoulos (23:28):
I would have to really think about it and process. And then I would say, "I hope so, Beth. I hope so. I think we will."
Beth Demme (23:38):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (23:38):
That's what I would say. The only reason I hesitate is because I think you possibly might be somewhere else, because you'd be in empty nester. That would be my only ... I think I'll still be in Tallahassee.
Beth Demme (23:48):
Yeah. I hope I'll still be in Tallahassee.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (23:49):
Yeah. That would be my only ... There may be life changes like that that would happen, although we can still do it remotely.
Beth Demme (23:54):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (23:56):
I would say-
Beth Demme (23:57):
We're pretty unstoppable. I mean, as long as we have things to talk about.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (23:59):
Yeah. And I would say we're doing the podcast two years from when the pandemic started, so who's to say we wouldn't be still doing it. So yes, I think we will still be doing the podcast. And I would say ... I don't know if I'll still be wearing a mask. I don't know. I feel like it will get to the point where it's kind of like flu, but it'll be like flu where we are more educated. Flu was a thing before that we could easily get from someone else. But we weren't really ... That wasn't the forefront of our mind. Although I do remember right before COVID being at Starbucks and this person hacking and gagging next to me and I'm like, "I'm not going to get the flu from you, Missy." And so I left.
Beth Demme (24:43):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (24:43):
So that was the first time I can remember really being conscious of it. So I don't know. I feel like I may be wearing a mask or I may make those choices if I hear someone sick around me. I do think that, though. If I hear someone sick around me and I can actively make a choice to leave, I think I will. I do now. And I think I still will do that.
Beth Demme (25:10):
I will say I, pre COVID, I was the kind of person who, if I was sick, I was like, "It's no big deal."
Stephanie Kostopoulos (25:15):
Beth Demme (25:15):
"I can still do my life." And now I'm like, "No, I'm not doing that to everybody." In fact, the January before COVID came, I had the flu and didn't feel good, didn't know I had the flu, but didn't feel good. And still went to work/church on a Sunday morning.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (25:31):
Beth Demme (25:31):
And I was an associate at the time. And Betsy, my senior pastor was like, "You are getting people sick. Why are you here?"
Stephanie Kostopoulos (25:39):
Beth Demme (25:40):
And I was like, "It's no big deal. It's just a cold." And then I went the next day and realized I had the flu, got tested for and had the flu and then felt really bad. In this world, now that we know COVID, I would never make that kind of decision. I'd be like, "I am sick. I'm not coming."
Stephanie Kostopoulos (25:54):
Yeah. I agree. And I think that's definitely how I will be if I'm sick. So I do think that will have changed in two years.
Beth Demme (26:03):
I might still wear a mask while traveling.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (26:07):
What have been your thoughts of about the CDC and their guidance?
Beth Demme (26:11):
I mean, I think overall, I trust the CDC. I from the beginning felt like Dr. Fauci was a credible person who I believed. I wish that there hadn't been so much confusion about masks early on and that they had made it clear, "Well, this is a supply issue, not an effectiveness issue." I think that was a misstep. And I do have this underlying question in my mind about how politically motivated the CDC is, has been, will be. But overall I trust them. They're scientists. They're people who have dedicated their lives to figuring this stuff out. They know a heck of a lot more about it than I do.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (26:53):
But how about all their guidance? No mask, wear a mask, any mask will do, wear a mask, don't wear a mask. You're fine. Wait, put your mask back on Delta.
Beth Demme (27:05):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (27:07):
Don't wear fabric masks. They don't do much. Wear an N-95. You can buy them now.
Beth Demme (27:11):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (27:12):
No more mask.
Beth Demme (27:14):
I wonder why they have had such a hard time messaging. I mean, it seems to me like they have vast resources available. They should be able to have the best communications staff available. And they just sort of have communicated like scientists, and we really needed a communicator, which is one of the reasons why Dr. Fauci was so compelling, because he's such a good communicator. But yeah.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (27:42):
They needed to hire the best marketing company out there and get behind this, right away. And they didn't. And I think that was a huge miss. And even me, who've followed, who have been to the CDCs website, even me, I had an exposure to COVID and I wanted to see what the CDC said about it. And this was fairly recently, I think, within the ... Maybe it was in December, and it was not clear at all right. I'm vaccinated. And there was no clarity at all. There was maybe a suggestion here or there. If you get sick, you might have COVID, maybe get a test. That wasn't super clear. And that was on the website that wasn't like I'm watching a commercial and I'm unclear. This was the written word. So I agree with you, all that you said, CDC, I trust some scientists. Science rules. I got it. I'm good with that. But their communication has not been great. And I can't come down on them so bad because they're figuring it out like we're figuring out. Science is not like ... You got to have research and time in order to actually have those answers.
Beth Demme (28:50):
Which takes time. Yeah.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (28:50):
So I get that, but I feel like they made some poor choices, especially when they ... Almost a year ago, it was around May of 2021 where they said, "No more mask. We're good." And then a couple months later, Delta hit and we're back to masks. And I had never stopped wearing my mask because I'm like, "Mm, I don't know about this." I think they just, I think they made some poor choices that just added to confusion, which added to the debate and the backlash of wearing a mask.
Beth Demme (29:24):
Yeah. They were reactionary often on masks, instead of really leading the way with good solid information. And I just want to say, I know Dr. Fauci works not for the CDC, but he was the messaging person. And so the National Institute of Health and how all of that works together. But the guidance comes from the CDC, and so that's who we've been relying on. And their messaging has just been inconsistent. And even if they had said from the beginning ... I mean, hindsight's always 20-20, I guess, but to say from the beginning, "The science on this is developing."
Stephanie Kostopoulos (29:59):
Beth Demme (30:00):
"The science on this is developing. The science on this is developing," to make it like a mantra, so that people would understand things can change. And then to say, "The vaccine may not completely prevent infection, but it will prevent death." That's the ... Because people are like, "Why do I still have to wear a mask if I'm vaccinated?" Because the vaccine doesn't event infection. They just didn't communicate those things well.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (30:23):
They really needed sound bites that could be put on a t-shirt.
Beth Demme (30:26):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (30:26):
That's really ... Everything that you say, can it be put on a t-shirt? Is it catchy? That's what they needed to really be doing. They needed a Millennial on their team. I think a lot of it is they're older scientists that have been ... Which is good. We have people that are very knowledgeable and educated, but are poor communicators. They probably have AOL email addresses or Juno or Embark. You know those people. I'm just saying, "We love you. You're great. But you need some Millennials on your staff to help you with your messaging."
Beth Demme (31:00):
Friends, if you have an AOL email, you are being judged for that every time you give someone your email address, I hope you know that. I hope you're okay with it. It's a choice you're making.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (31:10):
Gmail is free.
Beth Demme (31:11):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (31:12):
Do not pay for your freaking email. Do not pay for your email. Because there are so many people paying for AOL email addresses.
Beth Demme (31:20):
Oh I didn't even think about that, that that's they have to pay for.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (31:22):
There are people that pay for ... Yeah.
Beth Demme (31:23):
I didn't even think about that.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (31:24):
For more space and stuff. Oh my gosh.
Beth Demme (31:26):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (31:26):
When I worked at apple, that was my goal, was to move everyone to Gmail, which probably makes me part of the conspiracy of Google. But I was like, "Gmail is free. Please get a new email. And this is why it's so much better, especially when you're using multiple devices."
Beth Demme (31:43):
But yeah. So I think the CDC needed a communications team that could liaison between the scientists and the public. I think that would've made a big difference. The guidance wouldn't have been so bad or so confusing or so all over the place. Do you think we're at a place where we can say this is our normal? Wearing masks, being worried about virus transmission, has the world changed for good for permanent?
Stephanie Kostopoulos (32:12):
I can only speak for myself. And I would say, this is my new normal is being aware of this. This is not the last time we're going to be infected on a global scale by a virus like that. There's no part of my brain that thinks that this is the end. Like, "We won. We're good." So yes, I'll be mindful. I will have a supply of masks at all times. Partly ... And I'm not going to hoard them because actually you don't want to just hoard them because they have expiration dates, the N-95s and K-95s, they actually do. But we use them in the workshop. So I will always have a supply because we need them for that. But I'll also keep in mind that need them for going places.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (33:00):
I'm definitely like if somebody's sick, I'm going to make a choice way sooner than I ever would have before. You were sick last week and we didn't record.
Beth Demme (33:08):
We didn't record.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (33:10):
And so I definitely think for me, this is my new normal is I definitely have way less anxiety than I did at the beginning. I have less fear. But I feel like I'm at a good place mentally. I have a good ... And I think I have a good plan going forward of how to be just socially aware of my surroundings and what's happening in the world. How about you, Beth? Have you changed for good?
Beth Demme (33:39):
I do think the world has changed for good as in, these are changes that will last, and also in ways that are good, that are overall beneficial. Like the fact that I will no longer go out when I'm sick, I won't infect other people. And it was something that I didn't even think about before. I think that's a good, positive change that at least I can participate in. And I think that is a change that will stick with me. I don't think in two years or five years, I'll be like, "Well, now I can go out when I really don't feel well." Like, "No, not only is this better for me to not go out because I can rest. It's better for the world if I just keep my germs to myself."
Stephanie Kostopoulos (34:15):
Beth Demme (34:15):
So I think that's good. And also that sense that we talked about, that sense of inter connectedness as a species and just realizing man, we are so fragile. We are so fragile. I think that ultimately is a change in our recognition and our understanding and that that's good.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (34:33):
I will say I also learned that before this, I thought people were pretty good and cared about other people. I will say that this taught me that is not true, which I don't necessarily think is a bad thing. It has pushed me, though, to find people that are good and have those people in my life, or that are ... Not saying they're people that are good and bad, but it's pushed me to find people that value the things I value, and not necessarily are a clone of me.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (35:09):
Before, I wouldn't necessarily have talked politics with friends and wouldn't have necessarily known their views. And I'm not saying I'm not being friends with people that have different views, but it's made me look at that in my friend group and evaluate the people I want to spend time with, the people I don't want to, or the people ... I don't know. It's just something that has changed my mindset that I didn't necessarily think about before. And it's made me want to expand my friend group to people that are different from me. I realized I don't have black friends and that's not okay. Well I do, just not necessarily in town. But that's something that through all of the stuff that's happened this year that I realize I need to be around people that are different than me and different life experiences, so I can learn about those and we can share those with each other. But all this aside, I do have to say, because I knew you, I have been changed for good.
Beth Demme (36:14):
We have a ton of fun making this podcast and we love knowing that you have fun listening. Some of you have asked how you can support us in this work. Well, actually there is something you can do. We're now on BuyMeacoffee.com. You can go there and become a monthly supporter, or just buy us a one-time cup of coffee, or tea for Steph.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (36:33):
Yep. To show our thanks for your support, we put PDFs of our questions for reflection, as well as pictures, outtakes, polls, and more. Your support helps cover production costs like professional transcripts we have made for every episode. And by the way, those are always available on our website with a link in each of the descriptions of the episodes.
Beth Demme (36:50):
One of the great things about Buy Me a Coffee is that you actually get an email when we post new content. You can go straight there and you don't have to deal with ads or being bombarded with other content. You see exactly the content you are looking for without a bunch of distractions.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (37:04):
We post once or twice for each episode, and we're excited to get your feedback as members of our Buy Me a Coffee page. There's a support link in the description where you can find out more and to sign up.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (37:19):
I want to tell you about something.
Beth Demme (37:20):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (37:21):
I found ... As you know, I'm a tea drinker.
Beth Demme (37:24):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (37:25):
You know that about me?
Beth Demme (37:26):
Yes. I'm a coffee drinker. You are a tea drinker.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (37:28):
Yes. I have found a new type of drink that I really like. It's called kombucha. Have you heard of it?
Beth Demme (37:34):
I have heard of it. Y.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (37:36):
Es. And I've heard of it before and I always thought it sounded gross.
Beth Demme (37:40):
Yeah. I think it's ... I would describe it as maybe alternative or hippie or granola.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (37:50):
Beth Demme (37:51):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (37:52):
Crunchy like granola. Yeah. And I am very big on flavors of stuff, and drinks, I don't like a lot of drinks. But I learned that kombucha is tea, basically. It has tea in it. That's the starting points of it. And I was like, "Oh, I like tea," but I don't like sugar in my drinks. And so that was the thing, is I learned that some have sugar and some don't. So I started getting into kombucha and there's one kombucha that I recently got that tastes like a Creamsicle. Do you like Creamsicles?
Beth Demme (38:21):
I do like Creamsicles.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (38:22):
Beth Demme (38:24):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (38:25):
Okay. I don't know if you'll like this, but I want you to try it. And I want you to tell me if you think it's good or not. It's healthy, so maybe I should say it's not healthy, because maybe that's the kiss of death to say it's healthy. You'd be like, "Oh no, it's gross. I could tell it's healthy."
Beth Demme (38:40):
I mean, it's got a couple strikes against it.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (38:43):
Because it's called kombucha?
Beth Demme (38:44):
Because it's called kombucha.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (38:46):
And it has tea in it and it doesn't have sugar?
Beth Demme (38:47):
Yes. All of those things.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (38:48):
Well, can I go get you a shot glass version and then we can see your reaction.
Beth Demme (38:53):
Nobody can see my reaction. This is the podcast.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (38:55):
I'm going to film it.
Beth Demme (38:55):
This is an audio format.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (38:57):
I'm going to film your reaction and I'm going to put it on our Buy Me a Coffee page.
Beth Demme (39:00):
Okay. Let's do it.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (39:01):
Beth Demme (39:02):
The dangers of being a yes person.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (39:04):
Okay. So I got the kombucha. What do you think of the bottle?
Beth Demme (39:09):
I'm encouraged, because it looks almost like orange juice and it looks like it will be light, almost, like a light ... It looks kind of happy. I think that's the right word. Happy. It looks like a happy bottle.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (39:23):
This one is called California Citrus.
Beth Demme (39:26):
Okay. The design of the bot bottle does make it look like something that I should drink after yoga.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (39:33):
Yeah, that could work. Okay. So I got you a shot glass version and I'm going to film you drinking it.
Beth Demme (39:38):
Okay. It's not bad. It's not amazing. I didn't expect it to be a little bit bubbly. I wasn't expecting that. I mean, it's not carbonated, but it's bubbly somehow.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (39:55):
When you first initially open, it's a little fizzy. As you drink it, the bubbly isn't there as much.
Beth Demme (40:00):
It's sweeter than I thought it would be.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (40:01):
Yeah. Right? No sugar in it.
Beth Demme (40:03):
Yeah. Yeah. That's amazing.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (40:04):
Beth Demme (40:04):
Because I can definitely ... Because I have a lot of sugar in the way I ordinarily eat, sometimes I'm desensitized to sugar, but this is sweet enough for sure. Yeah.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (40:15):
Beth Demme (40:15):
For sure. You wouldn't need to add anything to this. This is good. I would drink this.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (40:17):
Beth Demme (40:17):
This is good. Okay. So I started to say it tastes like a mimosa without the champagne, but I realized that makes it just orange juice, but it's that bubbly, fizziness.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (40:26):
Beth Demme (40:27):
Yeah. Well you have to go to Buy Me a Coffee to see what we're talking about and ...
Stephanie Kostopoulos (40:30):
Yes, it's called-
Beth Demme (40:33):
See what she's trying to make me do now that she-
Stephanie Kostopoulos (40:35):
GT's is the brand of this. You can find it in a lot of places, but the California Citrus, it's actually a new flavor. I was looking at their Instagram. It's a new flavor and it's very good.
Beth Demme (40:45):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (40:45):
highly recommend it.
Beth Demme (40:46):
Well maybe you're listening and you have a kombucha flavor that you would like for Stephanie to try. Not for me, please, but for Stephanie to try, and to put her reactions on our Buy Me a Coffee. So if you do, give us a call at (850) 270-3308.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (41:03):
And I will try them. My favorite kombucha still though is the Humm, H-U-M-M Whole30 version. That is still my favorite. I really like GT's now. Emily actually told me about it. She was on our podcast and I've tried a bunch of flavors and this is my favorite so far.
Beth Demme (41:20):
This one is good. I could drink this one.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (41:22):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (41:26):
At the end of each episode, we end with questions for reflection. These are questions based on today's show that Beth will read and leave a little pause between, for you to answer, or you can find a PDF on our Buy Me a Coffee page.
Beth Demme (41:36):
Number one, how has your life changed in the last two years? Number two, what has changed in your life for good in the last two years? Number three, how have your friendships changed in the last two years? And number four, have masks become the norm for you, or do you find it to be a chore?
Stephanie Kostopoulos (42:01):
This has been the Discovering Our Scars Podcast. Thank you for joining us.
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Mental Health Advocate. Author. Podcast Host. DIYer. Greyhound Mom.
I'm a mom who laughs a lot, mainly at myself. #UMC Pastor, recent Seminary grad, public speaker, blogger, and sometimes lawyer. Learning to #LiveLoved.