June 22nd is my wife Briana’s birthday. She’s the Dragontree’s founder and fearless leader.
On the way to art school at age 18, she was in a car accident and broke her neck. It changed the course of her life. She never made it to art school, instead spending the following six months in a brace at home in Montana. During her rehabilitation period she received massage and this kindled an interest in the healing arts.
She decided to go to massage school in Portland, and later to California College of Ayurveda to learn the traditional medical system of India. When we met, she was a massage therapist at a little spa in Portland and also a professional belly dancer. Less than a year later, she was opening her own spa. She was just 23 then.
I helped with the planning and painting, but she has always been the engine and visionary. I’ve watched her grow tremendously in the 20 years that we’ve been together. Besides her business acumen, she has an incredible knack for making spaces beautiful. She’s an amazing mother and wife. She is generous and kind and funny. She’s a pretty good guitar player, too.
The funny thing is, for probably the first 15 years we were together she had these moments of insecurity when she would ask me with despair in her voice, “What am I doing with my life?!” It was as if she saw herself as floundering and aimless.
It’s interesting how outsiders sometimes see our gifts more clearly than we do. In this case, my response came so easily. “Well,” I would say, “you have built spas where thousands of people have come to feel better. You’ve created programs and courses to educate, uplift, and support people’s healing. You’ve written books. You’ve provided jobs for probably a thousand people over the years. You’re a mother and wife. You beautify the world. You’re a great friend. You’re always trying to be your best self. You’re good at Boggle – though not as good as me. I think that’s a pretty good start.”
I’m not sure if what I said was helpful in a lasting way. But over time, and especially as she began to do more spiritual and coaching work, there was an ever-growing group of people who said to her, “You changed my life for the better.” And I think it started to sink in. She doesn’t ask me what she’s doing with her life anymore.
From all of us whose lives have been made better by our association with you, Briana Borten, HAPPY BIRTHDAY! We love you.