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Tiny House Living W/ Macy Miller #27

Do you ever feel helplessly caught up in the rat race? Do you ever wonder how you can get off the fast-paced treadmill?

If so, this conversation is a MUST listen. My guest, Macy Miller, designed and built her family’s tiny home in 2011. Her now iconic tiny house has been featured in Time and Dwell Magazine. She’s influenced countless tiny house enthusiasts around the world.

In this episode we dive deep into:

  • Tiny home living (~200 sq ft) with husband, two children, two cats and a dog!

  • Her family’s homeschooling journey; an honest exploration of a counter cultural movement

  • Amazing insights on navigating technology use with children

  • The importance of decentralization in empowering community

I learned so much from this episode and left feeling super inspired. I’m already planning to do part 2 with her to learn more about her family’s inspiring lifestyle.

I hope you enjoy this conversation as much as I did!


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Instagram | @whatifworkshopIdaho

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It's really nice to be able to sit down and connect. I've heard through our mutual friend Ashley about the amazing things you are doing and your family are doing. And since we've had the chi time to chat, I was just blown away and excited and I've been holding on to that excitement ever

Macy Miller: since

Well, thanks for letting me be a part of the conversation. I like having interesting conversations with people doing interesting things, and this

Stu Murray: sounds awesome. Yeah. And I think there's something about that because when we can hear somebody else's journey, it can inspire our own and Totally.

Sometimes people might have that little seat inside of them about a potential dream, and maybe it just stays in that and sometimes the right, Yeah. [00:02:00] Con conversation could just pull it all together.

Macy Miller: Absolutely total believer in that.

Stu Murray: So for our listeners, I'd love for you to just paint a little picture about what your current lifestyle looks like with you and your

Macy Miller: family.

Sure. You know, I think of it as pretty plain Jane, honestly. But, I built a tiny house 10 years ago. It's 200 square feet. I was a single lady back then met my partner. We've since had some kids. The whole plan was to live in the tiny house for two years and get a feel for it, see what's possible, kind of push some technology so I could get some hands on experience.

My background is in architecture, so I wanted, you know, instead of knowing about radiant floor heat, I wanted to have experience with radiant floor heat. And so my plan was to build this little house, incorporate a few. Technologies I wanted to learn more about and springboard from that. I didn't know where it was going.

It was, uh, after the 2008 recession and architecture [00:03:00] took a nose dive. I was laid off, eventually hired back. But everything seemed unstable at that point. I had also gone through a divorce, with the whole complications there. And so it pointed me towards this path of transition, which I solved with a building, and building a 200 square foot house to live in, to kind of get me through this period and figure out, you know, what I wanted to do in the future, whether I was gonna change my profession or what, but in the meantime I could learn and grow and have more to offer clients in the future. And so I built this house and it's been 10 years. I just love it. I love the lifestyle. It's enabled for us. Since we've been able to do this I've. Essentially retired. I kind of do my own thing and, and take jobs that I want because I don't have very many expenses. I've been able to save money and so my purchases are done in cash now.

And I can raise my kids. I stay home with them. And, you [00:04:00] know, I promised them the first five years of their lives, they get me one on one. Cause I feel like that's a really crucial time period for a kiddo. Now they're seven and eight and they still get me one on one . It's, turns out we like that too.

But it's just kind of been a path that allows me to step back and be really intentional about how we choose to go forward with our life. In 2016, let's see, the kids were three and four or five. And we took off for a road trip, but we felt like the town we were in was out growing us.

It was not. Offering the same childhood to my kids that it offered to me. It's where I grew up. It's where my partner grew up. and so we built a camper and we took off around the country, for 13 months. We toured national parks. And with the hidden goal of is there a better home base for us?

And so everywhere we went, we're like, Does this feel like home? Does this feel like home? You know? And what we found out was like, the whole world felt like home. There was just such [00:05:00] beautiful things about every place in this country. And so we got back home and we were like, I don't know, and on our, like, we had finished our trip and we ended up in north Idaho.

We're from South Idaho and we visited my partner's mother. and we were driving home from there and we drove through Moscow, Idaho, and both of us, like, we were literally just driving and we looked at each other and we're like, This checks every box. Like it's beautiful. It's a small college town.

There's all kinds of opportunities here. And we literally just looked at each other and said, This is it. This is our home. And then we moved . So. Wow. It was, it was awesome. Like it was one of those moments, you know, people tell you this'll happen that you may or may not ever experience, but it totally happened for us.

We're like, this is it, we're putting roots. And so we moved the tiny house and we moved it 300 miles north and I bought six acres. We're setting it up, It's off grid. We've been living here now for three years, completely off grid. We collect our own rainwater. We [00:06:00] generate our own power. We built our own roads on the property, like all of it to just. You know, um, but it's the adventure of it that we like. And so it just, we found this place and it just had every opportunity and more that we could imagine. And I don't know how we luck into it, cuz North Idaho is a very expensive part of the country right now.

But we got a good deal on the place, . It was just lucky, everything just kind of conspired to work out for us. And it seems to continue doing that every day. So now we we're just doing the thing, we're living our life. We're I home educate our children and doing the thing.

It's fun.

Stu Murray: That's an incredible journey, Macy and I imagine. It must have felt pretty liberating back, you know, as you were feeling the crunch with your job and losing these different employment opportunities, moving through a divorce, really shedding a lot of things and maybe navigating some different aspects about financial insecurity to be able [00:07:00] to build your own place that you could Yeah.

Operate from. I'm sure that gave you this sense of, for you. I mean,

Macy Miller: there was definitely, It was, it was liberating, but it was terrifying too. Mm-hmm. None of these were choices anyone I've known had ever made before. And still to this day, I don't know anyone that homeschools before me. And now like I'm in the world and I'm reaching out and I'm finding a tribe, you know, to help me through that.

But that's not a part of my upbringing if anything like that was frowned upon in my family. And so a lot of these choices have felt ostracizing, and terrifying cuz like nobody quite understands it and there's a lot of concern that maybe we're making a dumb decision, you know? And I think initially that used to, um, I dunno, hurt my feelings a little bit.

Like it didn't feel like I was supported until I changed the mindset that these people who are questioning my every move, they're concerned about me, they love me. Right. You know? But it [00:08:00] doesn't feel like that at the moment. It feels like you're criticizing me or like you're doubting me.

Um mm-hmm . And so I think at least initially it was more terrifying than liberating, but it made sense, it made logical sense on paper. And so I went forward anyways with it, um, the figure, even if I just fail horrifically, I'll learn something , and that's totally, that's the goal. Like we're that I feel like that's why we're here in the world is to learn things.

Stu Murray: Yeah. Yeah. And it's funny culturally how we've had that fear of failure and almost this, that fixed mindset where it's like, Oh, I'm not good at something. Or I could take a risk and the floor could drop out from under me. But I think that's the sweet spot too. Yeah. ,

Macy Miller: Well, we're hard at animals.

That makes sense. You know? But I think if we step back logically and how we're treating the earth as a species is that the right answer? You know? And if we can step back from that and choose differently, but it's scary and it's daunting to step off that normal path, like safety and numbers [00:09:00] and ah, okay, we're deviating. But in my experience, like you can build a tribe and oh my gosh, I had to explain what a tiny house was to every single person that came upon. And now you can't find a person that doesn't know what a tiny house is. And that's how changes get created too, I think is being bold enough.

To speak out loud about your own journey, even if you might fail horrifically. And then taking those criticisms as learning opportunities, like my mom would question my ability to make these choices, and if I'd considered all the things and I'd listen to her, and then I'd consider those things she was worried about, and if I could justify it, still we're good. But those are all tools to kind of help you weave your path, I

Stu Murray: think. Mm, totally. And that's where the innovators are. They're in that space of doing the things that are often criticized, that are often, it is no measure of wellbeing to be well adapted to a sick society. And so, Yeah. Yeah. I, I lo I love That's a great, a status quo.

That's a great saying. [00:10:00] Yeah. Yeah. I love it when somebody's willing to take a leap and take a risk and do something differently, because I think some, there is some, Almost an existential discomfort in within each of us, so we know, you know? Mm-hmm. , we're not living in alignment with the earth, we're not living in right relationship with Mother Earth or with one another within our communities.

It tends to be very indivi, individualistic and self focused, and I don't think people are that way. I think it's the story that we've inherited, so mm-hmm. , it takes a lot of courage to start to shift that story. And I wonder how did you do that? Like, as you were feeling challenged and not supported, when you probably needed to feel that support as you were taking these mm-hmm.

leap. How did you start to overcome that? It

Macy Miller: was just uncomfortable, whichever way I went. And so it was like, which uncomfortable do you want? Do you want the uncomfortable path that has you working every day, all day? You know, I work in architecture and people think that's a hop knob sort of a job. It's not like people work 80 hours [00:11:00] a week to do strip malls and push paper and like it's. It's a, it takes a lot from you and it doesn't necessarily pay you back. I'm sure I could have tried to target that ladder a little bit differently. But that was an uncomfortable path for me too. And so do I want the uncomfortable path that takes everything from me that I'm just barely getting by on this thing?

And then I kinda realized through my divorce, I don't even like that stuff. I bought a 2,500 square foot house. I literally had a white picket fence and I hated every day of it. It was just so much, It was not me in any way. My family was proud of me. I was doing well, you know, from the outside, but I hated it internally. So do you want that path that's not you? Or do you wanna try to find something that might be and so I, I think I was just became okay with the discomfort of going forward. . However the cards lie. The cards lie. And fortunately for me, when I followed my intuition, stuff started aligning.

And [00:12:00] now lead a life that I'm, I don't know, some, sometimes I feel bad when I tell others like, I'm so happy , you know? Mm-hmm. , because that's not the norm. And it feels like bragging. But I feel like I'm living a life that is authentically mine. I made the choices I made and I'm happy with them.

So at the end of One Road there's hopefully good, but there was a whole lot of discomfort in the middle part. And it was, what kind of discomfort do I wanna handle?

Stu Murray: It's a good perspective to take. And I think sometimes that's, Needs to get us to be able to move. It's that discomfort that pushes us, that will get us out of that comfort zone to make the shift.

Because comfort can be a real enemy of innovation or good can be an enemy of great. It's like, Oh, things are okay. You know, things are good, but really what kind of life do we wanna live on? This short little span that we have on this planet. Like, let's celebrate it. Yeah. Let's make it a party

Macy Miller: Well, and once you start, [00:13:00] making choices based on your own intuition, I feel like the world just conspires to reward you along the way. One of the first things, um, like dating became hard when I started building a tiny. , because not a lot of guys are cool with me, showing him how to use a power tool, that's emasculating , you know?

But like, we would do that and I had a lot of first dates that really just didn't go anywhere. But then I met James, and James was like, This is really cool. And then he adds to my crazy ideas and together we just build more. And so once I started having an opinion that deviated from that boring old path that everyone kind of gets pushed on in some way or another, I started finding the crew that helps support that, you know?

And it's worked out really well because I stopped questioning myself though, is really what it was. If it's, if it wasn't working, this being honest and saying, This isn't working for me. This isn't my path. And yeah. Going the [00:14:00] way, you know,

Stu Murray: I love that so much, and I've been meditating with that and leaning into that aspect as well, both as an educator and as a human trying to navigate and find my way in the world and hold space for others to be able to authentically step into their own.

And I've let go of the idea of there being coincidences. I really Yeah. Think that there's this almost this beautiful intelligence to the universe and all we really need to do is get quiet enough and still enough to listen and then have the courage to, to bring that in. Yeah. As we step into that courage and the authenticity of who we are, we become magnetic and we start to attract these totally amazing things in our life, and all of a sudden you bring this community to you or your partner to you.

Mm-hmm. all of the conditions that seem to apply, it's, it comes as we start to walk that path of our own heart.

Macy Miller: Absolutely. I totally believe that. I'm reading the book and I'm not very far into it. Have you read Big Magic? No. It's all about this idea that like [00:15:00] creativity and ideas exist on their own and they're looking for a human conduit.

And you have to be there and ready and willing, and it's a partnership. And if you lapse on that, it'll go find somebody else. But there's these good ideas living in their own world alongside people all the time. If you could just slow down and be open to taking them, you can be the partner with this magic.

And I'm listening to the audio book and I'm like, Oh my gosh, this is perfect. I just love it. I love that whole concept of just being open and ready and walking the steps you need to walk and then being willing to acknowledge these things as they come into your

Stu Murray: life. Yeah.

I love that so much. And I felt that a lot in the creative process, both like witnessing others and within myself, like I think. artists, and we all are artists. We are all creators. Mm-hmm. There's a degree of rational understanding. The parts, the pieces, whether you're playing an instrument, learning how to paint mm-hmm.[00:16:00]

designing a building, anything, it requires that rational brain. Mm-hmm. At first. But once we get these tools and the skills and the experience, it's almost about getting out of our own way.

Macy Miller: Exactly. Yeah. Yeah. You can learn all the parts you need to, but the creativity comes when you start to let it flow.

Mm. That's

Stu Murray: the big magic .

Macy Miller: Yep, yep. .

Stu Murray: I love that so much. Yeah. And it is this positive feedback loop and it's that, yeah. That cycle of building self trust too. Mm-hmm. , it's like, oh, I did take a leap and. , that risk was really worth it. Even if I did fall flat on my face on this piece mm-hmm. at the end, I can actually look back and say, Wow, that's led me to this beautiful place.

And so then courage becomes contagious both with the people around us and, and internally like we can mm-hmm. build that muscle of courage by taking a step. Okay. That, that one went All right. I landed on my feet. I'm still good. Yep. Okay. Here's the

Macy Miller: next one. That's exactly what the tiny [00:17:00] house did to lead me into homeschooling, you know, that mm-hmm.

that was not in my realm, but I needed that experience almost to feel comfortable. Cause when you're dealing with your kids, there's the whiplash. You might be ruining a person , like the foundation of them. And that's a scary thought, and society has a lot of feelings about that as a whole.

And specifically about education, you know? Mm-hmm. And whether or not I'm doing a disservice by going this way. But I needed that, that tiny house rebel experience to be the education rebel, that we're taking on now. And just like the tiny house when it stops working, when it stops being beneficial for all parties, we'll move on.

We'll pick the next best thing. Being willing to do the thing and willing to step out of doing the thing when it's necessary too,

Stu Murray: I think is the important. I do too. And I had a teacher when I was studying yoga in India, who used to say to me, he would say, Don't accept or reject anything I offer.

Just see if it [00:18:00] serves and if it does mm-hmm. take it on. And if it doesn't, let it go. And I think I've really, that's really helped serve me a lot, be it in the idea form or in actually doing things. I tend to have an allergy to dogma and so I really like the I idea of being honest and having the ability to say, Pick this up and take it with you and, mm-hmm , if that's now becoming too heavy or causing, set it down and carry on and move, find the next thing.

Yeah. Absolutely. Were you into homeschooling? Like, did you plan when you had your children? Did you know that homeschooling would be the row? No. .

Macy Miller: No. It was funny because I started feeling that way when my daughter was three and three is now the age you're supposed to look at preschools. And I was like, I'm not ready for that.

I'm not ready to send her away for that time per day. And so we started working together on shapes and colors and letters and I really liked it. I really, I felt like I learned so much about [00:19:00] how my daughter learns by teaching her and I feel like that's an important part of humanity.

I think all of us are teachers, whether we admit it or not. It's a feedback loop And you understand another person when you watch them learn and that is a sort of bonding and it felt really important. And so I did preschool and then, my son was one, my daughter was three, and then he started picking it up and they were bonding, learning together and I got to watch that.

And I felt like that was really important for our family unit. And now we're like, obviously she knows her like letters and colors and can read and everything, but now we're on a different loop. We're doing like emotional education. I feel like right now, where she's faced with a problem she doesn't know the answer to.

And all I have to do is help her understand herself and help her work through how to work within her brain. Like how to problem solve , I'm not teaching anything per se, but a method of learning. The world teaches her everything she [00:20:00] needs to know. I'm teaching her how to learn, I love it, but at the same time, we're getting all kinds of family bonding.

My partner steps in and he's. I always say he's the digital to my analog. So he does all the text stuff and man, like my son is seven and he's coding things. They set up security cameras on our whole property. They do stuff that I don't know how to do and my seven year old is leading it, you know?

Cuz his brain works that way. He's just like his dad. But I, it's beyond me. Like he's already learning things that I'm just like, that's not where my interests are. That's not where I run to. But teach me about it. Tell me what you know, and he'll explain it to me and I feel like he learns so much by explaining it to me.

And then I get steps forward, , but I'll never do the things you are doing, but it's a family exercise and we love it. Like all of us get something from it and it changes over time, what that is. Mm-hmm. . But so far it's still working for us. So third and first grade is all they are right now. [00:21:00] I do think eventually we'll put them in more classes. I mean, they have like art classes and karate classes where they do that stuff with other people because they're at the point that they need to start gathering those experiences with strangers too and how to engage over things.

But the classes they're in are fun. Mm-hmm. and eventually, hopefully they'll think math is fun or something, and they'll be put in with peers in, in those areas. But I will be sad when that happens. Yeah.

Stu Murray: I believe it. I've had goosebumps listening to you speaking there about education.

I've been an educator in the public system for the last six years before I stepped out and I saw so much. The things you're talking about, around emotional regulation and allowing them to be able to regulate themselves. Mm-hmm. If everybody felt that sense of internal empowerment mm-hmm. and the ability to listen to that whisper in their own heart, their own intuitive knowing

Macy Miller: and have it confidence. Did you imagine what the world would

Stu Murray: [00:22:00] look like? Like just unleash this Yeah. World of potential that I can't even, I can't even fathom in my own head because when I see a child that's empowered, they're naturally curious, they're willing to take risks, they're willing to communicate openly.

They care about other people. They take responsibility for their actions. When a kid is empowered,

Macy Miller: those are face, face level human things, as far as I'm concerned. But you don't have the time. and a caring adult, that's able to focus in on that. It gets skimmed over the top and you learn certain things and other people are, some kids are really able to pick that up really well.

The difference between my son and a daughter, I couldn't imagine how they could be more different of learners and teachers and doers. I feel like it's almost a cruel joke. Somebody played on me because everything that works really well for my daughter is like nothing to my son. But they're so good together and they bridge the gaps [00:23:00] and it helps me learn how to teach them better when they can use their own language and teach each other. I can see what hits with miles and what hits with Hazel, And so it's really, it's a group exercise, but, oof, they're so different.

like one is very analytical and one is very creative, and they lean into those hard, you know, and. Ugh. It's crazy. It's an adventure. I love it though, .

Stu Murray: That's so cool. And I told myself, and I landed on this when I was in education, it was like, my job is to nurture that sacred flame of curiosity that exists in every child.

Mm-hmm. If I can do that and then surround them with the scaffolding and the skills that they need to be able to achieve their dreams and their visions, like our work is

Macy Miller: done. Yeah. I always say my only job is to put opportunities in front of them, see what's interesting to them, and put those opportunities in front of them.

That's where I'm just the polar of pieces and set it right in front of them. If they take it, they take it, and if they don't, they don't, You know, but it's, their educational journey [00:24:00] is theirs to pick. I make them follow reading standards and stuff. But that stuff is pretty simple. When a kid is going down the route, they kind of pick up all those skills, but I try to be aware what does the state say is important at this age? And it's, I mean, it's well below where they're at right now for a seven year old and an eight year old. Like they, I barely worry about that.

I just wanna make sure I'm pulling in all those pieces as we go. Mm-hmm. . But it happens. People have just this innate curiosity about the world and given the opportunity, they'll roll down it, they'll steam roll down it, it's fun to watch. And I've had, so in my little community that I've built around like homeschoolers, wild schoolers, cuz I think what we do probably falls more into the unschooling category, where it's child led and there's not a lot of sit down and do this worksheet to it.

But I try to make sure those things are taken care of. There's a lot of people who [00:25:00] have gone to public school and they have. For lack of a better term, had their spirit broke a little bit. Yes. And there's this period of adjustment getting back to their own curiosity. And the general rule is however many, however many years you spent in public school, it's one month per year to just do nothing.

And then you'll start to find those things again. But a lot of the kids just, they hate learning because they didn't do it the way they showed up in school. And so they felt like a failure. And that you've gotta unlearn that before you can follow your own intuition and go on your own learning path. So yeah, I don't know.

I always find it so interesting how damaging school, like in the collective setting can be to some people. And some people do really well with it. I actually think my daughter would do pretty well in a public school setting, mm-hmm. and she wants to try it. Our target is fifth grade.

She'll try it. But I know it's not for my son at this point, and in the foreseeable future, I just [00:26:00] don't think he would do well in there. And he wouldn't be allowed to explore, And unfortunately, I think that's that way a lot for little boys in the beginning years. They can be ruined because they're, I don't know, they're vibrating.

They're kinetic learners and that's how the role is. I'm around and there's no room for that in a classroom. And logically, so you're in charge of 20 some odd people, you know, like they can't be vibrating around. Right. So, but it's interesting. The educational journey is not everywhere.

I thought I would spend some time, but it is Sure. An interesting area. I can't wait to see like, The rest of life brings, what am I gonna find interesting next? But you never really know, We'll see .

Stu Murray: Yeah, I remember having conversations with educators cuz I, I became like a positive behavior mentor at one point and then worked on community engaged learning.

So helping them address and problems that they were passionate about in their own community. And when I was trying to work with the educators around [00:27:00] so many, it's a common complaint in education actually. It's like this kid's not interested in learning. This kid doesn't care. And so all of a sudden we've labeled this child is disinterested or unable to learn or, and a problem because then it leads to behaviors and

Macy Miller: that's something to overcome in their future.

Stu Murray: That's right. And it's like, well, that's that kid's problem. At what point do we look in the mirror and say, what, well, what kind of soil are we creating? Right. For these seeds to grow, right? Because maybe our soil is nutrient deficient and maybe Right. Hacking them in siloed subjects where we think they need this many hours of math and this many hours of English and this many hours of science.

Like where does that exist in life? Where did this compartmentalize?

Macy Miller: And what adult would love to sit down and do that stuff too? You know, like true that like why are we expecting kids to sit and take it when we wouldn't even do it ourselves? That's right. But you're just like, What do you want them to [00:28:00] have?

Like a job they hate too and just get used to doing a job they hate all day long, every day. Mm-hmm. . And I don't think anybody wants that, but if you step back and look at the system and how it's working, that's what we're saying

Stu Murray: mm-hmm. . And it was designed that way. It was designed to create good factory workers.

And so it served its purpose for the story in which it was created. But now we're in a different world. We're in a world with complex overlapping issues and yeah. A time where we really need people to be connected to their hearts and navigate their way forward through all of these challenging internal and external worlds.

And healthcare and mental illness and environmental challenges and social challenges are greater than ever. And so we need this time that we can come back in and empower the individual so that they can be Yeah. Connected in their hearts and move forward from that space. Right.

Macy Miller: Totally agree.

Yeah. And how lucky, like, it's not lost on me that the path that we're taking as a family, it's [00:29:00] inaccessible to a lot of people. Mm-hmm. . That's right. And I don't know how to make that better other than, you know, like, I don't have like a company, I don't have a business. I don't do anything. I teach people how to build tiny houses if they wanna learn that, but I don't market it.

If they wanna find that stuff, they can find me and figure that out. But I just try to live my life authentically and talk out loud about it, you know? Mm. Even though it's not mainstream, and hope that the right person who's looking for an answer to whatever can get that inspiration some way.

And then I'm all over helping define a path. But that is the hard entry point. Overcoming the opinions of other people is the hard part about living life off grid and homeschooling my kids and living in a tiny house, everyone's like, What's the, the hardest thing, other people's opinions, That's the hardest thing to overcome.

But once you do it, it's contagious. And you [00:30:00] can build a network of people who you can help overcome that hard part. And then I think we'll be doing better. It's a slow process and it, and if you get spammy about it, it's not cool. I'm never trying to like, change anybody's mind about it, but I authentically love my life and that should be a good selling point, you know,

Stu Murray: Yes, yes. I've been meditating on that for quite a while as well, where I think it's almost a immature place that we're at because I was there, you know, I started to discover stuff about environmental habits and, lifestyle ways or practicing mindfulness or all of these things, and I. in my excitement and in my like, Oh, this is so different than the way I was living.

I need to share this with everybody. Yeah. Was almost prophetic about it. And it's an immature expression, I think because yeah, really change is we're not going to change anybody. Change comes from in that internal spark and [00:31:00] change comes from inspiration. And so it's not bureaucratic government dictates it's not large laws.

It's not us spamming, as you said, spamming other people. That's not where we're going to initiate sustainable lasting change. If we really wanna make a difference here, the best thing that we can do and is cliche as it is clean up our own front for us, do our work. Mm-hmm. do our work and make our work and our life the inspiration and the message.

Yep. That will carry the change that we wanna shoot forward.

Macy Miller: Yep. Yep. Absolutely. And honestly, that's why I say yes to opportunities like this. I always feel a little bit like I'm trying to sell something, but I'm not. , I'm just trying to be a voice so that if the right person looking for the right spark, you know, they, or not spark, but they have it in them and, they need that little reinforcement to, to get 'em to fold the next page over.

I wanna be that for people. But if you force anyone into these choices, they're gonna hate 'em. Just kind of like how when people get forced in the other choices, often they hate them. Yeah. [00:32:00] So like at a point, it's a machine. You've gotta slow down to be able to listen to your own intuition and go forward though.

And that's really hard right now when society is so noisy and it keeps you so busy, it's hard to slow down and hear those paths opening. Mm-hmm. .

Stu Murray: And it seems like it's getting exponentially busier. I mean, it was around 2008 too that social media came online. So now, Children of everybody is connected.

Mm-hmm. at a global level, we're seeing information inundation, and that's important all the time, but it's a tool, it's. It's a tool. It's a tool, and it can take us in either direction. Mm-hmm. And it can lead us to, paralysis where we're either, we start wondering about how else other people's worlds are so much better than mine, and that missing out kind of feeling mm-hmm.

To wanting to be on there and be a keyboard warrior or create these movements this way. And it's like, it's just a

Macy Miller: whole other fold [00:33:00] to our

Stu Murray: dysfunction. , it's, it is a interesting expression of it and it's very new. It's still such a new thing that we're going through. And I think it's interesting to note the rise in mental health issues with our young people as these things are coming on and mm-hmm.

really, we're at a time where we're starting to evaluate, how do we want to use these technologies for good? How can we Exactly. What, what if a social media platform had That's a great idea. Let's go grab a coffee button on it. Yeah. Yeah. Some ways to, to engage and to connect and like for your homeschooling community or for these things.

Imagine somebody who's trying to jump into homeschooling and could hop onto social media and find the homeschooling network. That's

Macy Miller: brilliant. Absolutely. Like I'm in so many groups now that are local to me that I don't know if I'd have the stamina to keep doing it without those groups. I mean mm-hmm.

they carry you when you start to doubt yourself. So it's a great tool if it's used as a tool, but it's not a,[00:34:00] I don't know. I think we're starting to see all those drawbacks of too much social media. And my whole philosophy is take what's beneficial from it and stop comparing the Jones's, because there's a lot of inaccurate stuff on there, you know?

Stu Murray: how do you navigate technology use with children?

Macy Miller: There's different theory on this than my partner. It's weird. We have a different mindset. They can use screens like we're not a screen free family. They can use YouTube, monitored, just because there's some stuff on there we don't wanna see, or don't want them to see yet. Like they'd only watch like Minecraft videos and then they got screamy, and then I could see their personas became screamy because they're watching videos and they're, I imagine in their head they're kind of like, this is how the rest of the world acts. Hmm. And so they got screamy in the house, like just talkative but not really saying anything, you know?

And so we came up with a list together of certain YouTubers that they could [00:35:00] watch those things from. The ones that we could hear. They have value. I mean, no cursing though. Cursing is, it's just words to me. My partner feels differently. But they're six and seven and eight.

They don't need to hear it. They get enough from me.

they're well trained there. But, we try to be really intentional about what channels they can watch on YouTube. And we use it as a critical part of our homeschooling. You know, we're doing, bug life cycles, you know, and there is some amazing videos that could teach that way better than I can.

Mm-hmm. . So my job is to be like, Okay, here's the problem that we need to solve. This is what we're learning about this week. Let's go find some videos. And then we search it, and then that video makes us ask another question. So we search it, and again, I'm teaching them how to find information. And then we do like a journalism class.

My, my daughter really wants her own YouTube channel. We're not there yet, but, She's gotta learn about journalism and truth in, media. And so [00:36:00] we're digging into that side and she's enjoying it. I think they're at the age where it's online. It's true. And so we're just unfolding that, No, that's not how it works.

And there's this really great book series, it's called Two Truths and a Lie. And we sit down and we read that every night, like we pick a new story. And each chapter has three stories. Two of them are true. They're all absurd. They're all like wild. Like the earth is burning, you know, Godzilla's real, and they all sound improbable, but two of them are true.

And they have to figure out which one's to lie. And they can use Alexa, they can search online, but they're fact checking. And I think that needs to start young in this day and age. They need to start doubting the information they're getting and verifying the information they're getting.

And so that's been like my favorite class to do with them because I tried to trick them and they're getting pretty savvy . So, uh, but no, it's a part of our future. It's not something we're gonna be like, No, you can't use it. I have track phones cuz my [00:37:00] son likes to break things. Not intentionally ever, but sometimes he breaks my phone.

So I have a bunch of old broken track phones. So they have their own phones. They're not connected to internet or anything. Or to service. They're connected to internet at home and we can monitor where they're going and what they're doing. Cool. Cause that's important too, is safety online. There's a lot of tricky people.

But we give them free reign, monitored more than they think it is. Mm-hmm. So that's our method. Other people have different methods for good reasons cuz every kid is different and they use it differently. They have friends who are not allowed to play Minecraft. My son learned coding through Minecraft, and that is one of his deep dives that he's going to, I don't think his job's invented yet.

Whatever he's gonna do from, for a living or for his passion, he's gonna make that up. And I'm so excited to see what it is, cuz that kid can think that way, like no one I've ever seen before. But safety's important and [00:38:00] monitoring that as a parent. And I don't know how people do that when they don't see their kid all day, you know, when they're at school. I know that schools shut down a lot of websites. Like you can't watch YouTube at school, but there is so much to learn from YouTube if you use it as a tool. And that's the tricky part though.

Stu Murray: It is tough to navigate, but I really like that principle because it's a tough world to navigate, period. Yeah. And so there's obviously infinite ways to go about that, but I always love at the end of the day, being co collaborator with your child or with your student or with people in that process. Because if we just tell somebody not to touch the stove sometime they might touch the stove.

Yeah. And then they'll be more conscious of that or Right. You say, Oh, we'll never do the, like these drugs are just bad. Never ever do that. I don't wanna ever see you. And then all of a sudden we start creating these places where there are shadows, there's thing, conversations that get swept under the rug.

And now there's no longer [00:39:00] a place in relationship to be able to navigate these challenging conversations or these challenging situations around media youth. Right.

Macy Miller: Everything as a learning opportunity. Mm-hmm. and I don't wanna take this like too dark, but when I talk about, so we moved up to North Idaho.

And the same weekend we purchased our property, there's a neighbor up the hill that purchased his, he was a convicted child sex offender. And he was our next door neighbor. Not only that, he drove through our property daily to get to his property. So usually when I discuss this part, I put trigger warnings. He's no longer with us. He got sentenced to prison again and he opted to off himself instead of going. But that was our life for two years. When we moved up here, we had a registered child sex offender living next door and through our property on the daily. And I hated that. You know, I hated that I had to talk about those things when my kids were so little.

And I feel like they have a natural mistrust in the world and I think that they're always gonna have that because they were so [00:40:00] little and I had to have discussions about this is a tricky person. And he would invite them to his house and stuff he like, We were always in eyesight. We were always around, never had the opportunity to do anything, but he would do it on the down low, and they knew, and we prepared him with things they could say and things they could do to never be alone with him.

And I hated that had to happen. But that is a learning opportunity and I have to believe that was put in their life for some reason. They needed to know about that at that point but I don't hide things from them. You know, the dangers in the world are real and we need to know how to start to see them.

If I never told him that he, they would've never known he was any which way because we protected them from it. But we didn't trust him and that he wouldn't try if he had the opportunity and we're neighbors, so they needed to know about it so they could not get in a [00:41:00] situation. Yeah, so I don't know.

Not everything's good in the world, but all of it has a story to tell. It's part of our story. And I feel terrible because my kids are so little and they're so mistrusting of people, like even, and especially adults, anyone like, they will default to, this is probably a tricky person because right at the start of the pandemic, the only person they ever interacted with was a tricky person and we were fairly isolated.

And it stinks that is their first experience up here in our new home, because we're here for the long haul and eh, but I have to believe that happened for a reason for them.

Stu Murray: And that, I'm sure that will shift and change as they grow and as they have. I'm sure hoping other experiences with that, I mean, obviously they received what they needed to be protected in that moment and to move forward, but I just come back to trust.

Right? You're creating an open channel, a relationship where your children can come to you and they could ask [00:42:00] questions. They could be curious. I find when we have the conversations that stay off the table, it creates a space for them to get curious on their own, it could create these challenging situations at times, Right? Where

Macy Miller: they're alone on their island and they have to navigate it. Yes. Yeah. Yeah. Because of that situation, a good focus of our year, this year is creating safe spaces. You know, the world's a little bit.

Safer place. Idaho stayed locked down more than the rest of the country cuz nobody kind of took covid seriously. Here. Our population is so low, it wasn't as big of a deal to people here as it was in more populated areas. But it's kind of opening back up and we're working on trusting people in relationships and that's a big part of our discussions this year is safe people and healthy people and giving them the experiences of that.

So like we're in a group of wild schoolers and there's like 15 kids and it's five parents and these are [00:43:00] all safe people. I know them, I know their background. I've Googled them, and so it's kind of creating this space for those healthy relationships to form and they're gonna learn it in their own way.

but just me saying these are safe people. You know, I'm still never gonna leave them alone with them or anything cuz they're not comfortable yet, but they're working it out. They have to have those experiences in order to feel like, oh, okay, this is a natural response. They're just kids. They don't have a lot of interaction with a lot of people.

They're just seven and eight, yeah. So that it's giving 'em the opportunity to have those connections where they can form their opinions. I hate that two years of their short little lives have been almost entirely isolated with a tricky person, you know, . Mm-hmm. But that's a, that's the hand they got dealt and we deal with it and yeah.


Stu Murray: respond, but, you know, our society's often very untrusting of people around us. Mm-hmm. and I think that can be a [00:44:00] problem. We kind of lead for Absolutely. With foot that like. We don't really have societies that are rooted in trust. And so we create laws and we create situations that need to tell people how to behave and how to do these things.

We make it us and them. Yes, yes. There's always this barrier of separation, and I think if we actually give people the benefit of the doubt, more often than not they'll rise to that. But that, that caveat being said, I think it's very important also to have strong boundaries and a sense sense of emotional intelligence and strong awareness, and so that seed that's planted could hold with them that they don't necessarily allow themselves to be taken advantage of too easily.

Yeah. But over time, still build deeper trust with Yeah. Adult figures and others in their lives and realize Yeah, I'm sure. Yeah. Cuz you're clearly surrounded with the beautiful community and beautiful people and Yeah. Those experiences will definitely be integrated too.

Macy Miller: Yeah. That's, that's the hope.

But I mean, that's just life too, you know, like, [00:45:00] We don't get to, to pick what happens around us. We get to pick how we respond to it. Yeah. And I think that's an important thing.

Stu Murray: Yeah, agreed. So what's your toughest challenges with homeschooling? What do you find are some of your, or unschooling, what are some of the biggest friction points?

Or do you have

Macy Miller: much? I don't have any. I love it. I do. I seriously, I love it. My daughter does want to go to school. She's a, she's our social butterfly. We're fighting out, She's not, actually, she's just more social than the rest of us. She's still on the shy side, but. She has this idea of what public school is like and there's vending machines and you take a bus and you have friends that you could play with all day.

And that's what she thinks. And I know those are not necessarily true, especially the bus and the vending machines. That's not a part of her school here. But she has a need to experience it. And that's what I take from it. And she's targeting in on it. She really wants to do it. And so [00:46:00] what I need from her to feel comfortable doing that is to see her setting a boundary with people.

Cuz right now she folds in so easy with friends. And it's really important to have her, that friendship for her. And so she'll do things she wouldn't do by herself. Like she's afraid of water a little bit. And she went and played in a pond with her friends because she felt pressured to do that.

And I know that was past her boundary. she fell into that peer pressure sort of. Mm. And so I need to start seeing her hold her boundaries. But we're thinking, fifth grade, she'll try. I think she'll like it for about a week, and then I think she'll hate it. But the lesson is that we commit to something and she'll see it through.

I really don't think it's for her in the long run, But that's like the biggest strife we have is I wanna go to public school. I'm like, Why? Cause I could buy a soda. that's not a reason , you know, but Right. But no, it's tough. Different [00:47:00] personalities. It's just like the rest of life. You have four people, Mom, dad, some daughter that we all have four different personalities. , those blend well sometimes and sometimes they don't. But those are learning opportunities too, and we develop those relationships and the strong family ties. Personally, I love it.

There's no drawbacks to me. Even the drawbacks, I can bright side into such great opportunities . Mm-hmm. . If you ask the other people in the family, they might have different answers. I'm pretty sure James is 100%. Like, let's keep going. He doesn't want her to go to public school either. It just doesn't seem like a healthy environment, , and it's such a weird thing to say about school.

But She's in charge of her educational journey. I just need to see that she can be an individual too. Mm-hmm. And let the education run the show and not fall into things. I don't know. No pushback from me [00:48:00] on any of it. Wow. Other people's opinions.

But I think everybody's on board with homeschool. Like my parents were very opposed to it. I always, I grew up in a house where we heard about weird homeschoolers in the that, cuz it's weird cuz they were homeschooled, you know? And as I've grown up, like all of those people I was like, told, were weird, are the coolest people.

They have the most developed worldview I guess. And I really enjoy talking with them. But I think my folks particularly, they see, whatever we go visit, they still pop quiz my kids. Are you learning this? But then they know like way more about computers. They teach 'em how to use their phones and how to use their computers.

And I think they've come around that they're just fine with this pathway on. Yeah. Other people's opinions are not why we homeschool anyways. Like the world's a changing place and I want my kids to be prepared for it. And school is a great big ship. That's hard to turn. And I think that everybody, especially [00:49:00] after Covid, sees drawbacks of the system that's in place, but it's gonna be a few more years before anyone's gonna be able to steer that boat.

Cause it's just a process. Like it's such a big machine, it doesn't turn on a dime.

Stu Murray: I would argue it's probably gonna be a lot more than a few more years. Yeah. , I think so. I've been seeing that.

Macy Miller: What do you think is gonna happen with our education system? Because it, I don't know that it's sustainable, how it is, for a few more years.

It hasn't been, it

Stu Murray: hasn't been sustainable No. For decades and decades. It's, and these conversations, all the way back to John Dewey and, and others. I mean, he, people have been writing about this for upwards of a century now and. Just saying the kind of direction we've been going is not fit for the way that we're, We understand about behavioral and educational psychology and the development of a child.

Yeah. For the changing world that we're in. The fact that 80% of the jobs in the future they're not even created yet. And so we need Yeah. [00:50:00] Skill sets rather than rote memorization, like mm-hmm. , all of these things like it, it has to change, but bureaucracy is a really static force and so much of the money and the energy of that system goes into institutional maintenance.

And so, Yeah. The vast majority of it is really just. The inertia of being stuck where we become fanatical about our measure of success has to be easy for the bureaucracy to measure. And so it's math scores and English scores. Not like how well is this child flourishing and what's their emotional intelligence like?

Or how are they able to think critically about problems or do they communicate well with their peers? Yeah. And what do they do when they fail? These things are hard to capture and I think it's going to make a lot more than a few years and a lot more flexibility for these systems to be able to get there.

Because what I saw that we were doing is we were just making little tweaks when we were in the system and what really has to happen is an entirely new paradigm and we seem to be stuck in a paradigm [00:51:00] paralysis at the moment. And so yeah, we really gotta shake that out entirely for us to actually see the kind of changes that I think will.

Enliven our education

Macy Miller: system. What do you think will happen? Do you think that they'll find a way or to systemize something that's healthier and more productive for not productive, that's the wrong word, that's a word they would want? . Yeah. That's something that is healthier and sustainable, like how do you see education looking in 50

Stu Murray: years?

Yeah. And my perspective has changed on that in, in different ways. I think the unschooling, the homeschooling, the private schooling, all of these things are really great because these places can create models that can show systems at work, healthy dynamics. Because bureaucracy, be it education, healthcare, any kind of structures like that typically say no.

Before they, they, so we can propose innovative ideas and it's [00:52:00] no because we haven't done it that way. I'm less convinced that those will be the leaders of change and we might actually see proven methods of private systems or homeschooling systems that are working then continue to work and show that way forward.

And I think those will be then adapted and integrated in as we move forward as more and more social unrest is happening with the education system. And then from there too, there's amazing educators in the public education system. I've seen time and time again, people get crushed by the way to bureaucracy.

And you go in there mm-hmm. and you see how many boxes you need to check and all of these things. And so it's going to take courage from the people and unfortunately, those who continue to rise up are often the rule followers. Yeah. The amount of times I got my wrist slapped while in the public education system for doing what I knew was best for the children in front of me Yeah.

Was unbelievable. Wow. Yeah. It was a confronting experience in that. And so I guess I've. I've not lost hope in humanity or in these systemic changes [00:53:00] at any way. In fact, I have deeper hope because I worked with the children. Yeah. And I actually published a book over the summer around an experiential learning framework that would even allow us to keep the aspects of curriculum.

We don't need to disagree that English and math and these skills are important, but let's create a experiential learning framework that's focused around the interests and the experience of the child, what directly impacts them, their family's lives, the lives of their community, and hook them with it interest there and build projects together and scaffold these things so that they can learn to set goals for themselves and create outcomes and just check back in.

And it's not the idea of achieving any particular thing, but it's the process of that. Yeah. And they're not gonna find that on a PowerPoint and they're not gonna find that in these different things. But I was actually working with a few schools prior to stepping out where we had taken then an hour and a half block in the morning and create an experiential learning block.[00:54:00]

So the kids were learning That's. Gardening and cooking and beekeeping and archery. Nice. And they could pick their different passions that, the teachers were working around them on Yeah. And wrap, Wrap that around. But the shift from taking that, even from just an activity to an experiential learning opportunity where they're able to build reflection within that critical thinking.

Yeah. Self-evaluation, peer evaluation, learning to give,

Macy Miller: Yeah. That peer to peer learning, I think is so understated. That's how like a lot of the learning happens from your peers and sitting in the same room. Yeah. And they don't all have to be the same age as you. I love our wild schooling group because it's ages four to 14 and every person in there has something to offer and they listen to each other and they learn from each other.

And it's amazing. The four year old in that group is so well spoken. She has learned everything from the others. Like she's almost the biggest sponge in there. But I feel like. The educational system, almost just the adults have to [00:55:00] create this environment where they're allowed to learn from each other.

Yeah. And it's not us talking to them, it's letting them talk and saying, what if, blah. You know? And then they just go and they learn like organically cuz we're human beings and that's what we do, . And it's so magical to watch though. And there's no room for that in the public education system.

And that's such a disappointing fact of that.

Stu Murray: It is. And that's why I see, I've learned to see the role of the teacher more of as a gardener than the past holder of information. Mm-hmm. , where it's like we need to. Create the conditions for these children to be able to express themselves, to explore, to, yes share, to navigate challenging situations.

It's really climate control, really within the classroom of how do we create the conditions that allow absolutely. To kind of learning.

Macy Miller: That's a hard thing to, to learn and to apply to a job.

Stu Murray: It's hard thing, [00:56:00] especially

Macy Miller: publicly, and it's not very measurable. , like

Stu Murray: it's not, Those things are harder to measure.

Even the way educators are being trained, it's, we're almost stuck in that loop too, because the new teachers, even still, the new teachers coming in are, went through often public education and then the public schooling preparation the, Yeah. Schooling place is still teaching the siloed subjects and still doing these things.

Yeah. And so it will take serious innovation from within and finding new ways and new metrics to measure. I said this to the bureaucrats often is like, where we are measuring is where we're going to go and it's where we're going to put our attention. And so if we're measuring standardized math and English scores all the time, then this will be continu.

To what we double down on. So as long as we do that. But what if it's, we were having, regular gatherings where the public could come in, the parents could come in, the public could come in and Yeah. See the products and be that the entrepreneurial things and literally buy the products that the kids made or, [00:57:00] Oh, cool.

See the ways that they had, done environmental initiatives, we started creating aquaponic system in one of the neat schools and a 60 by 30 foot geothermal greenhouse at another that then fed the cafeteria and fed the community, and it was all led and grown by the kids. And so That's awesome.

Awesome. These are measure, these are measurable and observable things Yeah. To document learning. So it's not the absence of something tangible to be able to do, it's just Yeah. A shift away and parents also need to shift that way because even at the parental. We still obsess with grades and test scores and all of these things and to, to what degree?

I mean, you could have a kid in one class and a kid in the other class, and if that same child was with a different teacher, they could have a totally different grade. What does that tell us?

Macy Miller: Yeah, right. No, absolutely.

Stu Murray: There has to be some public pressure as well around Yeah, around that. And, you know, for many it's just been, Well, I'll just do it.

We're gonna do it [00:58:00] ourselves because this thing's just moving too slow and mm-hmm. I do have hope for the public system. But I'm not as hopeful as a couple years .

Macy Miller: Yeah. Yeah. I'm not either. I mean, I'm one of those that removed us from the system. . So, you know what the most compelling argument to me though was, in all my like homeschooling groups and forums, it's a lot of school teachers and once they had their kids, they're like, I'm not putting my kid through that.

That's a traumatizing system, you know? Oh, right. And so a lot of the homeschool parents are previous teachers that are just like, Nope. And I'm like, If you're educated in teaching children, and your response is, this is not how you do it, we should be hearing that. Yeah. Like, you are the one who should. No, but the power is not in the teachers.

It's not ever given to the teachers who have the knowledge and the know-how and the passion to help a kid. Mm-hmm. , but they don't have the control to and, Right. [00:59:00] It's tough. That's unfortunate. Like, I don't know. I don't know. I, I don't know. I'm just, That's why I removed myself from it though. It just didn't feel right every turn.

Stu Murray: Yeah. I think it's, I think it's very courageous and a beautiful move for you. When I have children, I will be homeschooling, unschooling them as well or, But it's a privilege

Macy Miller: that a lot of people don't have. Like it is a privilege. That's the sad part, is the people who can't do it, they're just stuck further down the road.

You know, they're in the system. Education is one of those foundational things about a civilization that we should be prioritizing that. And healthcare. Healthcare also. And those are the ones that aren't getting any prior.

Stu Murray: That's right. That's right. And I found too that both of those are excellent examples that we should be, if we wanna solve the problems, we should be talking to the people who are facing the challenges and developing solutions from those places.

And where educators are seen more as a problem if they [01:00:00] speak up and share these things than a potential part of that solution. Same within healthcare. Let's talk to the people who are facing the mental illnesses or the addictions and yeah, find out how we can create wraparound services so that we can avoid prison or so that we can avoid all of these excessive costs that are going to hit us down the road.

I am seeing these dictates come from bureaucrats out of centralized office from experts and so what I'm teaching with my kids in a little place in a rural school in New Brunswick is coming from a city. That has no idea what the lifestyle of these children is that I'm in front of.

And so to pretend like that's okay, is a really interesting situation.

Macy Miller: See, like I, I feel like that was another us versus them. Like we can't just say it's sp cuts, you know, elsewhere. Even though we all kind of know that people are making decisions that don't understand the situation and that's not right.

But how do we [01:01:00] impact that? And that's where, that's all driven by money. Money is the common value system that we all hold. We all know. And how do you change the value system where it's more on outcomes or more on livability or more on like happiness? Cuz that's not measurable.

That's not a measurable outcome. But I would take my life any day and like frankly, I make like poverty style wages by today's standards, but I don't have expenses. And so I'm okay with that. And I would take this every chance I could, based on the happiness this life provides me over that one.

If I'm making a million dollars a year and I am just going disconnected from my family unit, like sure I look good on paper. You know, when I bought that big house, I look good on paper, I was unhappy. Mm-hmm. . And now I'm a happy path. How do we change the value metrics that I feel like that would solve a lot of problems, but [01:02:00] it's kind of capitalism, you know?

And yeah, that's not the only way to live and Right, but. I don't know. It, I don't think that's changeable.

Stu Murray: Well, there's ways. I mean, if you're looking at that big picture and, to go back, I don't use bureaucrats and the dictates that they offer as this idea to other, because I've worked with many people at the departmental level and at districts who are doing wonderful things and truly are.

And I have seen change happen and I've seen shifts start to go where I see sometimes is like this lack of integrity or follow through. And again, these are big systems and they take a lot of time to shift and bureaucracy and is that the right

Macy Miller: answer? Like , right? Yeah. Cause like when you look at a power system, you know, many solar arrays, many sources of power is stable.

But then when you have the one power source that freezes and everybody's out, that's not a good. Food security. That's exactly it. Little gardens is better [01:03:00] than mono crops. We see this over and over again, but we don't like, like we know it. We can step back. We can look at it and say, this is the problem, but we don't fix it.

Yeah. And I think it applies to education too.

Stu Murray: It does. It does. And that's where I've been coming back to is decentralization is really where Yeah. People in their community know what's best for their community. Yeah. And how, I think it's a wonderful question of, to ask how do we empower those in the community to be the leaders of the change that they want to see?

And how do we bring these resources in the opportunities to those people in those communities to make decisions to lead their way. That's a wonderful. Place to go with because like you said, there's nature. Let look at her when she is diverse. She's resilient. I

Macy Miller: like that. ,

Stu Murray: right? How so? How do we create human systems Yeah.

That are aligned with the way that we are supposed to live on this planet.

Macy Miller: Like, like maybe scalable but not. [01:04:00] Mono,

Stu Murray: like. Right, right. And so what I like traditionally, we have a pyramid in education. I think you could take this for many aspects of the big structures that we live in, like you would have at the pyramid would be more of a triangle.

So at the bottom would be the schools. All the various schools. Yeah. And then you'd have the districts, which would be a bit more centralized and then the central department of the state. Yeah. Or the province or whatever. And so these guys make the, dictates, these guys provide the supports and these guys do what it's told.

We should flip that on its head and let's empower the local areas to be able to find out what their needs are, what their vision is, all held under, under these loose aspirations and these values that we all want to create some collective and shared values. Yeah. And then how do the districts and departments actually gather the resources to empower these local communities Because it's going to.

Damn near impossible to change these things. If we wanna do the [01:05:00] mono, the large scale, we can't keep the same systems. I think it turning the Titanic versus turning these little sailboats. Right? Right. So if we had a bunch of little sailboats, as you said, and that diversity and the resiliency, right, Man, then we've got a ability to mobilize and an ability to shift on a dime and respond.

Because even if there's a challenge in our situation, while we can react to that in a quicker fashion, if we're doing it at that local level, at that more Yeah. Direct place versus this big, it's easy to have oversights and it's harder to move fast when we're trying to centralize and do these big monoliths, be it in food or education or healthcare, whatever,

Macy Miller: which are also all weaved together.


Stu Murray: and food and healthcare and. They totally do. Yeah. Yeah. It's wild. And talking about capitalism, think there's even ways to move beyond capitalism. Have you heard of the Gross National Happiness Index? I have. That's a brilliant Right. Start [01:06:00] moving it in like without rejecting capitalism entirely and heading towards communism.

Yeah. I mean what if GDP was no longer our measure of wealth? Mm-hmm. . So the amount of product we're creating and exchanging mm-hmm. is no longer the vision that we say, Well, our economy is healthy, but it doesn't matter how educated we are, it doesn't matter how Yeah. Healthy our population is.

Or how many people are falling through the cracks and living on the streets, or unable to put food on their plate. What matters is how much product we're creating, and that's our vision. So if all of a sudden you see a country like Butan,

Macy Miller: how much happiness are

Stu Murray: we creating? Yeah. How much time do you spend with your families?

Yeah. How much time do you have for yourself? Are you exercising? Do you have access to good foods? Do you have enough money to live with your life? Yeah. That's, that you can still be capitalistic and shift Yeah. What you value and I The value metric. Yeah. The value

Macy Miller: metric. Start valuing happiness over money.

Yes. But that's a hard sell, , you know, that people with all the money wanna keep [01:07:00] it that way, And yes, it's interesting, but we can do it on our own mm-hmm. and I feel like our family is a great example of that. And we will continue. Not to pat myself on the back, but oh my gosh, I live such a good life and it's not all great, but I have the mental space to handle the parts that aren't great. When life throws me a curve ball, I'm able to respond. It's not just going to decimate the next month of my life. And that's such a privilege to get to live that way. But we can all make choices that get us closer to a point, a lifestyle that is manageable in that way.

But a lot of times it does take stepping off the path where it feels right. You know? Mm-hmm. , I think everyone has something in their world where it's just like, this doesn't feel right. Right. And you don't have to change it like overnight or anything, but you could explore a different option like [01:08:00] mine focused around buildings, cuz that's, Personally, like I got interested in architecture in fourth grade.

That's when I started telling people I'm gonna be an architect. No way. Because I see a lot of potential to change the world through our buildings that we use. That can start at home, you know? And in my case, it very much did and then it kind of stopped at home, cause boom. But there's systems set in place that keep us on this wheel and it's not getting us anywhere.

Mm-hmm. , I think if everyone could just listen to that feeling and diverge where it's appropriate for their life, because there's not a silver bullet. It's not the same for everyone. That's right. But following that intuition that we have accumulated through our life, we get tasked, we get all these situations that occur to us over time and they tell us to diverge at certain points.

And it's all different, you know? I think that's an important step in the right direction to [01:09:00] changing the education paradigm, changing our food system and food security and changing all of these things that are problems for us as the human animal. That's right. And we just need to decentralize our entire life and become individuals.

Stu Murray: Yeah. Yeah. And not individuals in the sense of that American dream. Everybody's got their own ladder in their own long term. Not that same, Yeah. , not that, that empowered, empowered individuals. I, I been coming back to that so much Macy, and I can say that like just talking to you and listening to your story, I feel a fire in my heart and I feel passion and it is just remind me,

Macy Miller: enjoy talking to you and about education, like it's, Yeah.

Yeah. It's just such a great discuss.

Stu Murray: Thank you. It's a pleasure. It's a pleasure. And I get lit up and I think that is how we change the world. Yeah. And the, these kind of conversations are not to be overlooked, and they're all around us when we are really, Yeah. In our state of flow, in our state of like off, I'm not trying to prove to anybody [01:10:00] how beautiful my life is.

I'm just celebrating it genuinely. Yeah. And when that starts to come, like I've been exploring this term around this notion of decentralization called parallel structures. Yeah. And it was talked about by a man named Balo Havel and the Buckminster Fuller as well, where they were, you know, Vlo Havel was in Czech Republic under the Soviet rule. And so they were just oppressed and oppressed and oppressed by a massive centralized forest. Yeah. It was not very ethical in, in how they went about things. Yeah. And so they created alternative life RAFs.

So instead of continuing to rearrange furniture on the Titanic and trying to get by under the big weight of this structure, they actually took all of the furniture and started to make life rafts. And these life rafts were so good that people could come off and jump off of that and have a place that they could turn to when they felt that, when they felt the courage within them to listen to that whisper, when they knew that.

As that's growing, as that's growing, I think a lot of [01:11:00] people are there and they're just overwhelmed and not sure where to turn. Right. Yeah. And so now that's an opportunity to. in, in seeing somebody like you who created a lifestyle like that where you have that freedom, where you have these things Yeah.

That speaks to somebody. I think that's

Macy Miller: a really good way to say it too. Cause you don't have to do the jump all at once. And that might backfire on you, but you might be feeling a push somewhere. Mm-hmm. . And so you start allaying the foundation so that when opportunity is just right, you ease over there, you know?

Mm-hmm. I think my whole life I had been laying the foundation of exactly where I live now. Like my brothers used to make fun of me cause I'd have a bedroom and I'd live in the. And then I like set up like a mini bar kitchen. I'm like eight years old, and I begged my parents for a mini fridge and they're like, No, we'd never see you again.

Cause I like made an apartment out of my bedroom, and so I [01:12:00] kind of knew it was gonna be okay, like you don't need a lot to shelter, and that foundation moved on until life got really hard. And then I was like, I'm pretty sure I could do this. I thought it'd be hard to live in a small house just as a single lady. But I'm pretty sure I could do it. I can commit to two years, and so my goal was like one year worth of rent payments. I'd build this house and I'd live in it for two years. So it was a net positive experience financially cuz of that value metric. Gotta assign it, you gotta make it make sense.

And then I did it and it was so easy and I feel like life set me up for that, you know? So that wasn't a hard transition for me. And everybody's got these experiences in their life that set them up in some way. Finding it and listening to it and being brave enough to diverge that way, I think is an important life skill for surviving the future and going forward.

But it's different for everybody. There's plenty of people who take a [01:13:00] hundred thousand dollars, buy a tiny house and hate it, but maybe their life never set 'em up for that path. Maybe it was sold an idea sold to them and they thought it'd be wonderful, but it wasn't, cuz that wasn't their life's calling. It's, I love that it's just listening to that gut feeling and that intuition that we all have developed through negative and positive life experiences. They all offer us insight. that we can carry forward. Education is what you get when you didn't get what you wanted. . The collapse of 2008 in my field totally was the push I needed to step forward onto my authentic path.

And I don't know what it's gonna take for everybody. And some people are doing great in this system right now, and maybe that's their path, you know? But if it's not working, then you gotta start listening to those feelings within yourself.

Stu Murray: And I think more and more people are feeling that front be it environment.

Absolutely. Be it people who disagreed with the policies the last few years, like whatever it is. There's people who are [01:14:00] trying to reclaim their power in different ways and to explore what that looks like. And I think in addition to the amazing aspects of what you said about that path of personal transformation and empowerment, is being able to ask for help by the people that we're inspired by.

Right. Being vulnerable enough to put ourselves out there and be like, Hey, I listened to this conversation with you, or I saw what you're doing. And it's I just love to know how you did that little piece. Right? Yeah. And being able to put ourselves out there to ask for help. You know

Macy Miller: what?

Yeah. That is my favorite part of every day I. Fairly regularly get an email from somebody who's like, I'm so sorry to take your time, but I had this question like, You are my favorite person and you made my day. I love helping people. That's what fills my bucket. And I've come to realize it's that way for a lot of people.

Yeah. Do not hesitate to reach out to anyone. I mean, the words they're gonna say is, ah, no or nothing, but it's amazing how many people out in the world [01:15:00] just wanna help other people, and that's just what they wanna do.

Stu Murray: It's the truth. And, I think that's actually so much of the reality of the world.

We've just wrapped it in dollar figures and like we've mm-hmm. , we've adopted it a scarcity perception of the world where if it can't be measured. It doesn't exist. Yeah. And it can all be put into to parts and pieces. And so we get stuck on this wheel and we've internalized this idea that less, more for you means less for me.

And somewhere within us, we know it's not true because it's just not the state of reality. And so, I've come to believe, like truly I believe that everybody genuinely cares and wants to be of service.

Macy Miller: Yes, absolutely. Even the worst people I've met will bend over backwards if they can, like they will.

It's, I think it's another condition of being human, that community builder, herd builder in us, that's how you do it. And I don't know, [01:16:00] it's a joy to help people, but it's also the greatest privilege that I have been helped along my journey. I have reached out so many times to so many people.

Sometimes it didn't go anywhere. Other times it changed my life though. Mm-hmm. it's a joy from both sides to get that and just that human

Stu Murray: connection. Yeah. Yeah. And that's, We're hardwired for, that. We're hardwired for connection and belonging and to feel authenticity. And so yeah, to live in balance with both of those things is tricky, but it's a life worth living, that's for sure.


Macy Miller: Absolutely. Those are the fun parts of the day. The rest is just things you do ,

Stu Murray: like totally. So speaking of things you do, I'm curious about your experience from transitioning from living in a tiny home on your own, to living in a tiny home with one person to living in a tiny home with a family.


Macy Miller: Well, we also have two cats and a dog. And our dog is a great game. We had doubts about every single [01:17:00] step. And I mean, we've never been pigeonholed into this decision. This is the choice we make every day. If it's not working, we're gonna change it, and actually on that two years, our goal, now I've said it, I've said two years, a lot of times in my life, I actually mean, like our goal is in two years to have our other house built.

So I bought this property three years ago, and part of the goal was, My partner is also an architect. We're getting itchy for another project . So, and our kids are growing and I want my kids to have their own bedroom when they're a teenager. So we're starting to design up, it's about a six to 800 square foot house.

I want it to be a passive house, so that conditions itself. So in two years we're gonna roll on to that. But no, every step of the way we've been like, Will this work? You know? So I live in it. First I paid off all my debt, so I became debt free. And then James moved in and paid off all his debt and he became debt [01:18:00] free.

And then we were pregnant with Hazel and we're like, This isn't gonna work. Maybe. I'm not sure, you know, And we ended up, because we just had the one sleeping. . And then I was like, Yeah, but as it got closer, co-sleeping felt like more important than giving her own room. And then if we changed, if we went to another house, I'd probably have to get a job and I'd miss out on, you know, like if we just could stay here for another six months, we'll have that.

And I could bond with the baby And then the baby came and it wasn't hard, it just, it naturally flowed. And so we're like, Okay, we're gonna have another baby. Cuz I wanted, we both wanted two. Well, initially I didn't want any, he wanted two and if I'm gonna have one, I'm gonna have two.

So we got miles. And it became important at that point that we had two different napping areas, like a door that could close. So, Mm. The nap schedules of a newborn and a two year old are way different. [01:19:00] So I wanted a room when Miles came along and it became Hazel's room at the back. So I just enclosed my patio on my house and it was a kid's room, and that was Hazel's room.

And then I co-slept with Miles, and there's bunk beds in it, so eventually he moved into the bedroom as well. But that's the only time, like I was nervous when James moved in because I've never quite flowed as easily as I have with another person, with James. But we flow pretty well, so it still worked.

And then I was scared but confident with Hazel, and then I wanted the room with Miles, and now they're closing in on 10 and they're getting bigger and rambunctious. And so we're kind of like, Well, two years is our tim