Meet the Poplar Family

The Poplar Tree represents this family’s homestead on our map. If you visit Smart View Recreation Area you’ll find that their yard is mostly rock. Beautiful mossy white rocks…

 Poplar Family homestead

Together, this family enjoys biking, camping, art, singing and music. Mama Dawn and Papa Sam learned Focusing shortly before Stryder was born so that they could raise their kids with these skills. They are a typical busy family and feel blessed to be living Focusing as a way of life in community with others.



Molly GuterriezMolly Gutiérrez is our illustrator for the Poplar Family in book 1. Molly lives with her husband, Sam, and their house full of fur babies in Roanoke, VA.  She enjoys whipping up yummy things in the kitchen, digging in the dirt, healing through mind and body modalities, and discovering new depths through drawing.  

Unfortunately, Molly was not able to draw the Poplar Family for future books. We very much appreciate Molly for getting us into print. A local Floyd artist, Aaron Staengl will take over drawing for the people in our stories.

Aaron Staengl


Aaron Staengl is an artist and  Ayurvedic practitioner with a regular yoga and meditation practice.

His company Ayurvedaposters has an international presence. He lives in the Blue Ridge mountains and enjoys spending time with his two year old son.


Let's take a peek at the Poplar Family as illustrated in Book 2 and onward!

 Mama Dawn



Age 38

Mama Dawn is a social butterfly, involved in helping others in the community. She works as an artisan potter. Her hobbies are Qi-gong, biking, kayaking and gardening.



Papa Sam


Age 37

Papa Sam is the founder of a local nonprofit business dedicated to raising awareness about mindfulness skills. His hobbies are walking with Casey, his dog, video games and playing fiddle at Friday night jams in Floyd.



Age 11

Stryder likes to move and runs, bikes or plays basketball most every day. One of his goals is to join a local track team. Stryder feels movement helps him be more attentive when he is sitting to read or play a video game.





Age 8

Wendy is adaptable and likes to keep her options open. She loves to draw and is already a talented artist. Since moving here, her new hobby is plants, learning about them and spending time learning to communicate with them.




Age 4

Levi does not talk much. He is often sensitive, showing off one moment and closing down the next. Levi is Mama Dawn’s nephew who recently joined the family. It’s not clear how long he will be here. His parents live in a big city and travel often for their jobs. They hope Levi will thrive more in this environment. He loves birds and imitates bird sounds beautifully.



Casey, the Poplar Family dog

Age 3

Casey lives in adoration of her family. She is quite attentive to Papa Sam for walks,  one-one time and treats. She is also quite happy that Levi is here. She often sits near him as he plays in a sunny rock patch outside the home.