Gladys Moreno is a woman at peace with her family, her business, her boundaries and her life.
But she has not always felt that way.
"I have self-respect now, but it was a lot of work getting there," Moreno said. "Now, I know my boundaries and when to say ‘no'."
When you love yourself, it is easy to love others.
"From as far back as I can remember, caring for others has been important to me," she said.
Past careers as a certified nursing assistant, pharmacy technician and medical assistant opened her up to the challenges and problems people face in life.
After her own health issues were successfully treated with reflexology, she realized that mainstream medicine did not always have all the answers.
"I believe medicine should be integrative," she said. "I love doctors, but now I always give natural remedies a chance to change things first."
Ownership of her own business was another childhood dream and when she moved to Payson with her husband and two young twins five years ago, the dream began to blossom.
Her children were 6 years old when she enrolled in the massage therapy course at Southwest Institute of Healing Arts in the Valley. She chose a grueling 60 hour-a-week schedule to complete 1,000 hours of study. She specialized in the modality that helped her -- reflexology.
Just before graduation, she opened Garden of Eden where she would practice her new profession and sell custom-blended lotions and other personal items.
"My husband was extremely supportive," she said. "He always is."
Laughingly, Moreno calls their marriage "arranged," "because our mothers traded pictures of us."
"The first thing that drew me to him was the respectful way he treated his mother," Moreno said.
"When I married Richard, I stared living my life," she said. "I'm still in love with him -- he still gives me butterflies in my stomach."
The Morenos will celebrate 20 years together this month.
Their twins, Emma and Emily, have watched their mother work hard for her achievements and that is a good thing for their spiritual and emotional growth, according to Moreno.
"Being in business for myself is a lot harder than I dreamed," she said. "It is extremely rewarding, but it takes extreme discipline, organizational skills and lots of patience." Moreno has been working her dream for three years. The retail line has grown to include herbs, teas, coffee, baked goodies, jewelry, books and other items
"When I made a penny, I invested it back," she said.
Now, after three years and three locations in business, Moreno is physically at the helm just four days.
"Nothing is more valuable than time with my family," she said. Those three days in a row at home give Moreno time to prepare the Middle Eastern dishes she loves, sit down for family meals and catch up.
Garden of Eden is located at 1101 S. Beeline Highway in Payson. Call (928) 474-3220.
Hometown: Florence -- the outside population. Florence is one of, if not the oldest town in Arizona. The first hospital was built there.
Age: 39 and after that I will never tell you again.
Occupation: Entrepreneur, licensed massage therapist and herbalist.
When did you move to Payson and what brought you here? My husband's work brought us here in 2001.
What's the biggest risk you've taken recently? Opening up a business in October 2003 as a sole proprietor. Financially and emotionally, the Garden of Eden is my baby so I am very tied to it.
What's the best piece of advice you've ever been given? One of my massage teachers told me, "Listen to your gut feelings and follow your dreams."
Three things you want people to know about you: I am honest. I have self-respect. I have learned my boundaries.
When you were a kid what did you want to be when you grew up? I always knew I wanted to own my own business and I also wanted to be a nurse.
Book: Healing from A to Z
Song: I like world music.
Food: Middle Eastern. Sometimes I feel like I should have been born there. I like the richness of the culture, the colors, the spices.
Sport: Walking or jogging and kickboxing.
Vacation spot: Anything by the ocean.
Movie: "Gone With the Wind"