Message from Ros Happ

My interest in ‘philosophy’ underpins everything. Since I was very young, I have always been interested in ‘what makes a person good, happy, irritable or angry.’ I went to Sunday school and was confirmed Anglican. I think at the time my brothers started Christ Church Grammar when they were 16 and I was 12. I was always waiting for ‘an explanation’ but didn’t get a lot from the teachings I was exposed to. However, I was drawn to the ‘religious feeling’ and some of the stories, which helped a little. 

I have studied many philosophies along the way - Vedanta, which Suzie, my daughter, is still very involved with. Steiner Education and Anthroposophy and The Virtues Project. And have read many books such as Jordan Peterson’s ’12 Rules for Life’, ‘Atomic Habits’, ‘The Power of Now’ and The Good Earth’ by Eckhardt Tolle. I became a ‘master facilitator’ in The Virtues Project bringing it in initially to Dunsborough Primary School way back in 2003/4 and facilitating it in ‘The MR Independent School’. It also formed the basis of a program I ran for some time called ‘Voice, Body and Mind Gymnastics’. This was a short six-week program I would sell to schools which didn’t have music specialists. All of these studies influence me daily.

If you asked me ‘What is The Virtues Project’ my answer would probably embody a lot of what I am trying to say. We are all imperfect leading our up and down lives but if we return consistently to ‘the virtues’ to being kind, being consistent, being committed, being friendly, we can manage our imperfections, or put up with them and accept them in others. Acceptance is such a big thing. The more we accept people ‘how they are’ the nicer they become. This presents me with a big challenge as I don’t always accept Erl the way he is. I do challenge him and sometimes it seems right to do so - it is ‘what I ought to do’ but that is the beginning and the end of it. It's not necessary to hold on to grudges. That’s how we make it through our imperfect times but still necessary parts of our lives. 

I was ‘moulded’ by being around the consistent routines of my grandparents, my aunty, and my parents. They enjoyed ‘their routines’ my dad (Adrian Jones) got up early every morning to attend his garden before having a good breakfast and going to work as an engineering draftsman. As well as tending the garden, he loved to service his car and do things in his workshop. On weekends, he would pick up his father, who was in his 80s and take him to Waterman’s Bay where he was building a two storey ‘beach house’ using all hand tools as there was no power or battery tools, at the beginning anyway. Sometimes we would go with him, depending on our activities. On Sundays he generally stayed home or took us out ‘occasionally’. He was very considerate towards mum but obviously struggled to ‘not do what he wanted to do’ all the time and instead do what she wanted to do!

My mum was a 50s stay at home mum like most of the mums I knew. She sewed our clothes, even my brother’s shirts sometimes. There were no cheap clothes in those days!  She knitted our jumpers too. She did an upholstery class, played tennis with her friends during the week, cooked and washed etc. She would get irritable though, which used to annoy me. I used to think, ‘why can’t she ask me nicely, as she knows I will do it!’ Personally, I think this irritable tone of voice was handed down to her from her own mother plus my mum was very smart and would probably have been happier working outside the home as well. 

I dare say she had the brunt of being around two challenging boys and me, the youngest. My father thinks that I never caused any trouble, but I had my moods and my moments!

I was always encouraged to walk and later ride my bike to my grandparents' house. They were ‘old’ grandparents so I would hang out whenever possible with my aunty Rita who was unmarried and looked after them. Her world was so different. Born in 1903, she was 44 when I was born. She had trained as a teacher and later took a psychology degree when it became available at UWA - she was one of the first women to graduate in this degree. This led her to be in charge of the ‘Vocational Guidance Branch’ of the education department. This department handled ‘learning difficulties’ as well. I can recall Aunty Rita discussing the new found concept of dyslexia. She herself was an incredible reader super-fast and would read anything. Her brother, my dad, Adrian, read very little and very slowly probably a bit dyslexic, as I think I am too.

Aunty Rita was a natural leader - President of the YWCA for many years, President of the Soroptimist’s club -  a club for strong women leaders, I gather. She would talk to me about the rights of women etc. At the same time, she was incredibly good at embroidery, flower arranging (a judge in the Royal Show), baking and of course gardening! She didn’t seem to need much sleep as she got up even earlier than my father, gardened before work, worked full time and went out in the evening to her clubs.

Now you know a bit more about the real me! I never know how much of ‘the real me’ to expose when asked. But as you can see there are so many factors and wonderful people who have had an impact on my life and who I am today.