What I learned from a Solitaire card game

In our frantic and fast-paced world – yes, even now with the virus all around us – many of us cling to the idea that we know what we did, we know how to do it, we’re gonna do it that way forever because … well, because.

I know there’s a certain beauty and comfort in doing things the way we’ve always done them, but what if those ways don’t work anymore or not as well as they did?

What if there’s a better way we’re not even willing to consider?

Of course, some things do need to be done in a certain order, or nothing will work out right.

We can’t unload the groceries in the house if we don’t get them inside the house first.

We can’t drive the car anywhere if it stays in Park or Neutral.

We can’t have our home-brewed morning coffee if we don’t turn the machine on first … and boy, am I familiar with that!

And we rarely will have a different outcome by doing what we’ve always done!

I suddenly thought of all that as I played a solitaire game online called Scarab this morning, which is definitely a tough one. Users generally only win about 15% of the time. I’ve stayed consistently in the 75% range.


  1. I don’t give up easily. The game allows for redoing moves, so I often start over, trying to do something different. If I moved a card to a spot that I could have moved another card, I move the other card. Why not?
  2. I let it go for a while. I walk away, do other (more important) things, and then when I come back to it, I often I see something I missed earlier. Fresh eyes and all that.
  3. I don’t focus only on one suit. If hearts aren’t going to work, maybe clubs or spades will. I can always come back to hearts.

My point is this: If something doesn’t work the way I hoped it would, I adjust some part of my process.

So how does this play out in real life … for me, anyway?

Right now, many grocery stores are allowing those of us who are seniors (over 60 – and when did 60 define old age?) to shop early in the morning to avoid crowds. I like the idea of fewer people there, but somehow going at 6 a.m. hasn’t been very appealing.

So for a couple of recent grocery runs, I stuck to my guns and went at noon, and bam! Loads of others there too, many not wearing masks, and fewer choices than I expected for meats and other items I went to buy.

Of course, I couldn’t be sure, but I figured that if my way wasn’t working, maybe I should try the new one. So yesterday at 6:15 a.m. (thank goodness it’s light out then) off I went. Maybe 20 folks there. More meat to choose from. The yogurt I like was available in my favorite flavor (Key Lime). No TP, but I have more than enough anyway. And everyone was wearing masks!

Now, will that be true EVERY time at 6 a.m.? I have no idea, but I’m glad I at least made the effort. My bottom line was simple: If I’m going out of the village these days, I need to give myself the best chance to win.

What have you done differently that has made a difference in your life? Is it something you can carry forward to other parts of your life as it unfolds?


Susan Rooks
Susan Rooks
With nearly 30 years’ experience as an international workshop leader, Susan Rooks is uniquely positioned to help people master the communication skills they need to succeed. In 1995, Susan formed Grammar Goddess Communication, creating and leading workshops in three main areas – American grammar, business writing, and interpersonal skills – to help business pros enhance their communication skills. She also leads one-hour LinkedIn workshops (Master the LinkedIn Profile Basics) via Zoom to help business pros anywhere maximize their LinkedIn experience, offering it to Chambers of Commerce and other civic organizations free of charge. As an editor, Susan has worked on business blogs, award-winning children’s books, best-selling business books, website content, and even corporate annual reports (with clients from half a dozen countries), ensuring that all material is professionally presented.

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  1. Susan I always enjoy your wit and thought process.
    All coffee lovers are my friend.
    I’m such a person of habit and function. I go to bed at the same time, wake up same time, always order jamoca almond fudge ice cream; do the laundry in the morning; etc…
    But, I’ve been stepping out of my comfort zone pursuing a goal important to me; working smarter not harder, and so far it is working all thanks to God who is providing us with everything.
    Wonderful piece as I expected. Thanks for sharing.

    • And thanks so much for that, Laurie! I never was a person of habits, but as I’ve aged, some have crept in. It makes sense to have some, but I don’t want them to run my life. I still like being spontaneous, because it can provide new insights.

      Happy New Year to you, Laurie, and thanks for taking the time to read and comment!

  2. Susan, thanks for your great examples that teach the critical nature of adjusting our process as we go!

    Yes, these times sure require adjusting. What I’m doing differently is taking the skills I’ve gained from what I was doing, being grateful for the folks I’ve helped (who’ve each put work on pause), and appreciating the healing that phase created in me. Preparing for going forward with an adjustment based on current needs in the market! Yes, adjusting will help me in other areas of life as I go forward. Thanks for this beautiful lift! Your tiny stories illustrate well… and grab the heart into the present moment’s challenges.


    • My goodness, Cynthia! Thanks so much for your compliments! I truly appreciate your taking the time to read and comment. There are likely hundreds of adjustments we need to make and will need to make going forward; should be fascinating to see!

  3. Susan — As I was reading your piece here, I kept saying “Yes!” “Yes!” “Yes!” (One was in reference to Key Lime yogurt.) I have slowly grown to look at life like the bumper car “ride” at the amusement park. If you hit an obstacle, back up and try a different route. It wasn’t always so earlier in my life. I was sometimes / often “One path Jeff.” I was frustrated. My mindset was closed to other possibilities. Now I try to catch myself and think of obstacles as temporary distractions. Finding a way around them is life’s adventure.

    Here’s to Key Lime yogurt and remembering to start the coffee pot.

  4. Blessings Susan,
    No one affected by this past event can say they have not learned anything. I’ve surprised if there is someone. For me I’ve learned how people will Still come forward to help the way it use to be growing up, and how we learn in church to be kind and do for the least as well as those in need.. I’m so at peace, not afraid and I guess that’s because I have so much love for our God in Heaven who will always give us peace when we pray.