March 28, 2014

Shopping at Dillard's

Recently my husband and I tried to return some gifts to Dillard's.  Our experience was some of the worst customer service treatment ever.  I decided to email them about my experiences; you can read my email here.

Dear Customer Service,
My name is Elizabeth Worley, I just married this June, and I used Dillard's as one of my wedding registries.  I wanted to make an inquiry into returning a few gifts and tell you about a frustrating Dillard's experience last Saturday (March 22, 2014) at the Gainesville, FL store.  My husband and I went to return some unneeded wedding gifts and were incredibly appalled at the frustrating return service.  My husband and I went to return three navy blue Fiesta bowls and one Oneida hostess set, all of which we registered for and either received duplicates or more than enough.  The Oneida set was sent by a woman named Kim Bevis and we did not have the receipt anymore.  Also, we did not have a receipt for the bowls but they still had the yellow tag on them.  The assistant manager and customer service rep would not let us return any of the items for store credit.  We knew we didn't have the receipts but we expected store credit.

First, why could we not return the Fiestaware bowls?  They had the yellow tags on them but apparently it was after 90 days so the manager would not allow the return.  Now, I understand this policy if it is for a seasonal item, like a Christmas plate, but this is for an item still being sold at full price at all of your stores (Cobalt blue Fiestaware Gusto bowls, $10).  The items still had the yellow tag on them so we could prove they came from your department chain.  I found this 90 day return policy to be really inconvenient.  We registered for these items as gifts.  Gifts for many married couples come in the months before and after the wedding.  When someone bought an item is not always when they give that item to the recipient couple.  This 90 day policy is useful for Dillard's and regular customers, but for registry customers is very short sighted because the time from purchase and the time that we receive the item can often be very different from one another.  The family that gave us this gift didn't give us a gift receipt; they probably did not think they needed to because the yellow tags should be proof enough.

Second, the manager would not consider allowing us to return the Oneida hostess set (Oneida Dover Hostess 6-piece set $50) because we did not have the receipt or yellow sticker.  We did not expect to return it for cash because we did not have a receipt, but we did expect to return it for store credit.  The manager said that without the yellow ticket they would not return it but then I asked if online purchases got a yellow ticket and he said no, so there was no way for us to return this item without a ticket that we could not have gotten in the first place because it was a gift that was purchased online.  Both the flatware and Fiestware continue to sell for full price, according to your website.

Third, we were a couple on a wedding registry.  You can see proof that somebody purchased that item if you would only look at our registry.  Right there is shows that an item was purchased and I'm sure with some basic research it would tell you who bought that item and for how much.  The store had a registry machine right there but would not look at it even though I asked them to.

My fourth complaint is my overall general treatment at the store.  The customer service rep was fine, clearly overwhelmed at what we were asking her to do, so I asked to speak with a manager.  I worked retail for several years while I finished my college degrees and understood that managers were usually the best step because they have the authority to make these kinds of decisions.  The assistant manager came over and he really gave my husband and myself a runaround.  When I asked for the corporate phone number and the name of the manager he did give it to me but told me that my overall efforts would be useless because the store manager was out on vacation (he said it was her first day of a two-week vacation) and that any complaints would just come back to him and he would give me the same answer.  I felt like he was trying to discourage me from voicing my frustration by attempting to portray it as fruitless and a waste of time.  I hope this email is not a waste of time.  I live in Southwest Rural Georgia and while I lived near a Dillard's when I was engaged, now that I am married there is no Dillard's near me.  We made a special trip to return these items at great inconvenience to us.  I said this to the manager as well but he was not interested in hearing about my experience or special trip to this store.

I hope this issue can be resolved quickly.  Again, I wasn't asking for cash, just store credits.  And while the stickers may have said the items were passed a particular time, I continue to receive wedding gifts and have no control over when an item is purchased and when it is then given to me, no couple does.  I feel like this places an undue burden on wedding registry couples and that other department stores would be more accommodating.  I do not think I will be shopping at Dillard's and could not advise other couples to register there.

March 27, 2014

Good grief, here again.

Am I the only person who can go from running 13.1 miles, having a personal best, and then less than a month later struggling to get through 1 mile?

Tonight I barely finished 1 mile.  I was jiggly and sore.  My pants weren't fitting right and my bra was too loose to be effective.  Really, any excuse was what I wanted to get out of there.

I'm supposed to run in a race next week.  A 5K or a half-marathon option.

How can I possibly be ready for a half marathon if tonight was so frustratingly difficult?

On a different note: Brandon found some triathlons for me to do this summer.

March 6, 2014

Do you have an anthem?

I've often said to my family, and now to Brandon, that when I'm dead and gone I want one particular song to be played as I am carried out in the casket.

It is not a funeral song.

It is not a church song.

It isn't even a sad song.

Instead, it is a triumphant anthem.  It is Queen's "Don't Stop Me Now."

If you don't know this Queen song then take a few minutes and be transformed, not only by Freddie Mercury's voice and the overall musical stylings, but the pulse of the song.  The energy of this song is all up, up, up.

I always listen to this song before races.  It never fails to put me in a good mood and to make me feel like I can take on the world.

Readers: do you have an anthem?  A power song?  A song that unfailingly makes you feel like a conqueror?  Let me know on Facebook.

March 3, 2014

Albany Half Marathon Review

On Saturday I completed my first half marathon for 2014 and my husband, Brandon, ran his first full marathon.  This was an awesome, awesome experience that I really did not think I would be able to do even up until the night before the race.  I know that race was a success because of consistent work but also months of answered prayers.  Brandon and I prayed for bravery, courage, and the ability to run through pain.  I was particularly worried about running 8 or more miles through incredible aching or pain.  We told God we were grateful for healthy bodies and asked him to give us the courage to run through pain, if needed.

God met and exceeded our requests.

My goals were to finish, to run in less than 3 hours, to run in less than 2:55, and then, if possible, to run in less than 2:50.  I finished in 2:52:13.  I ran the first 8 miles without any walking breaks and the first 6-7 miles all around 12:08 splits.  At mile 8 I took a 2/10 walking break and another at mile 10 and mile 12 (both of those times I walked for a half mile each).

This was one of the best races I've been to as far as community support.  Church groups, clubs, and local organizations were all strategically every half mile or so to cheer runners and provide runners with water, food, and Gatorade.  They also cheered with enthusiasm; they were excited to be there.

If I would suggest anything to the Albany Half/Marathon planners for 2015 I would suggest that runners need some entertainment.  Could they get some high school marching bands or drum corps at every 4-6 miles?  I think having some entertainment would break up some of the miles into more manageable chunks

February 13, 2014

Lessons learned while sitting on the bathroom floor

Above is the fantastic marriage of Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward

When training for a half marathon being able to run 10 miles is the sign that you know you can finish your race.  All kinds of things can happen on race day- crazy weather, blisters, chafing, but you know that if you can run 10 miles you can run 13.1.

On Sunday I ran 10 miles.  It took over 2 hours and I was at the very bottom of my time goal but I did it.  I quit somewhere around mile 6, turned around, and started to wait for my ride, but I dug a little deeper and started again.  My husband, who is training for his own first marathon, stayed with me for the last 3 miles.  He followed me in the car, shouting encouragement, and brought me water.  He stayed with me while I managed to run/walk the last 2 miles.  And as it got darker and colder in the last 20 minutes I was so relieved that I was not alone.

He is absolutely essential to my success.

I ran the last three miles listening to an audio book, instead of music.  I also ran thinking about a bag of cinnamon-sugar pretzels that were waiting for me when I finished.  I knew that 6 miles really wasn't enough to justify eating off plan but 10 miles got me chocolate, beer, and the sweet treat I had been saving for the end of a long run.  My dear, sweet, lumberjack of a husband brought me chocolate and drinks in the bathtub while I soaked away the soreness.  He then stayed with me while we watched 30 Rock on my iPad.  I mean the man sat on the floor of our bathroom (I cannot, for the life of me, remember when was the last time either of us cleaned that floor?) and watched Tina Fey 'Mamma Mia' Alec Baldwin while I ate Paleo-ish chocolate covered cherries and tried to remember how to move my toes.

Really, Brandon is absolutely a key component of my successful training and what I hope to be an awesome race.

Now that day he was doing for me what I had done for him.  On the days of his long runs, especially those that went poorly, I brought him drinks and sat on the floor next to the tub.  I made special trips for his Gatorade and Snickers bars.

So I started this post thinking about cinnamon pretzels and what 10 miles taught me but instead I started to think about the small lessons learned while sitting on the bathroom floor.  Sitting next to my partner I was reminded about small everyday acts of courage, bravery, and hope (mine on that day) made possible by the small, but incredibly necessary, acts of service, submission, grace, and gentleness (his in this example).  I also was reminded that in recent weeks we've each filled those roles for the other and I'm grateful for these moments.  I'm grateful that I wasn't alone this Sunday afternoon.  I'm grateful that I shared my triumph and accomplishment with Brandon and I am glad that I've served as a witness to his similar moments.

Oh, what a lovely, glorious, sweet life it is.

February 2, 2014

8 Miles? Hell yes, 8 Miles!!!

Today I ran 8 miles.  That's the longest I've ran in a year or more.  I felt strong throughout and took one walking break at mile six.  I told myself I could take one at mile 5.5 but I tricked myself into going just a bit farther.  Brandon was great and stopped by after an hour to bring me some water which was needed because at a windy 70 degrees, I was really warm and thirsty by mile four.

Now I'm sitting here feeling like I conquered something significant.  I decided a few weeks ago that if I could get to this point I could run the half marathon on March 1.  With less than a month and only three weekends between then and now I believed that if I couldn't handle eight miles then I probably wasn't ready to train up to ten or eleven miles.  Well, now I've handled it and I even thrived while doing so.  My paces are consistent and while I won't win any awards for speed I should be able to finish in a respectable sub-three hour time.  I've been telling myself that I want to stay at 13 minute miles or less and for the past month all of my runs have been between 12:15 and 12:30 averages.  I want to give myself some cushion for things like bathroom and water stops.  Thirteen minute miles would have me coming into the finish at just over 170 minutes, 10 minutes shy of three hours.  12:30 splits have me coming in at 164 minutes (2:44).  So, the best time I could hope for is around 2 hours and 45 minutes and I have a 5 minute window to come in less than a 13 minute mile.  I think if I am really consistent with my shorter runs this month that I should be able to reach those goals.

Now, a confession.

Yesterday I went to my parents' house and while in their bathroom I was met with a scale.  At my home I've removed all scales from my line of sight.  Brandon has one in the library bathroom but I never use that bathroom.

I weighed myself.

And it wasn't what I hoped it would be.  It was less than before but not something I considered really worth all of this effort or a year long goal.  And I knew I needed to make myself accountable here in my little corner of the world but also I wanted to think about what it taught me.  So, I reaffirmed what I already knew: that the scale could set my soul soaring or could weight me like a brick in a lake.  I considered all of the work I'd done all month.  I thought about the running, the swimming, and the CrossFit.  At first it all felt for naught but then it caused me to re-evaluate some things.

I consider myself a pretty clean eater.  I eat a mostly Paleo diet.  I'm flexible and Brandon and I make regular indulgences.  But seeing the scale made me wonder if I really eat as clean as I think I do.  Between three or four nights this month of parties and also the 'occasional' ice cream in the evenings I need to rethink how many treats and celebrations I use as an opportunity to sabotage myself from my real goals.  I mean, I want to have sweets and indulgences, but this month, which was largely less indulgent than the month of December, still seemed to have a lot of reasons to eat ice cream and cake and chips and pizza.

So the lesson I am going to take from this is to stop deceiving myself with the myth of clean eating 'most of the time' and really take time to decide what events are worth eating cake or milkshakes or whatever and which are not and better to stick to healthy meals.  So, yes, I tripped up on my goal of going Scale Free 2014 but it taught me a lot about last month that I can apply to the rest of the year.


January 22, 2014

It feels wasted.

Okay, quick update: 30 laps in the pool and 24.1 miles so far this year with more expected by the end of the week.

I knew I was addicted to the scale.  I knew I checked it everyday, before and after workouts, and after particularly arduous events in the bathroom.

I knew it gave me a sense of elation or devastation when it didn't say what I believed it needed to say.  I knew I was crippling my self-esteem with a machine that was fickle and recorded a 6 oz steak as a 2 pound gain.

I knew these things.

Which is why I had to give up the scale.  I said I will focus on athletic achievements but let me be honest: I thought this effort would lead to weight loss.  I thought that it would magically help me get over the weight loss hurdle I've faced the past 8 months as I floated up and around the same ten pounds.  I also wonder that if 11 months from now if there is no weight loss, will I feel as this year has been a waste?

As far as my weight is concerned I've always been really proud of the fact that for almost 6 years no I've maintained a 50-60 pound weight loss.  But I've never gone much further because I'll stop working out or stop tracking my eating or whatever and gain back ten pounds and then spend the next two months losing those again.  Right after the wedding I made some new progress but now I'm back up to right about where I was when Brandon and I got married.

So, not weighing myself has not changed my eating habits because it just hasn't.  I'm hungry, I eat.  I try to eat Paleo but I struggle to be consistent and to eat well in social settings and to not binge and I eat because I just love food!

So, I titled this post 'It feels wasted' because without the affirmation of the scale most of my athletic efforts and achievements feel inconsequential.  Who cares if I can lift 165 lbs 36 times if my pants are not a bit smaller for the effort?  Yes, I can now jump 12.5 inches but my stomach looks the same size so why does it matter?

Earlier this month Brandon and I took before pictures and I took a body fat measurement at my CrossFit box.  I hope that by February I (and you) and can tell a real difference.  I hope that I am faster and stronger but also smaller and I am being frankly honest about the real goal of my goals.  I hope that throughout the year, as the weight comes off, I can move away from tying so much to my body size, but if my body doesn't change I wonder if I will feel like this experiment was even worth doing?