A Message from Caroline

Welcome to The Hula Hoop Girl, an Body & Movement Play Practice where I guide and facilitate women to explore, discover, and expression through the transformational power of body & movement play. My story begins with at the young age of 21, my mother Grace died from breast cancer just 3 months after her diagnosis. She was only 47 years old. Her passing was the most tragic experience of my life, where I learned about death through my beloved mother. It changed my life so profoundly that I decided to dedicate myself to the art and practice of women's health, caring for cancer patients and their family members and so I set my sights on becoming an oncology nurse. 

As a practicing oncology nurse for over 15 years, I have had the honor of caring for patients at the most intimate times in their lives, serving as a witness to profound physical, mental, and spiritual human suffering, resilience, and courage. In addition, I have seen and experienced many changes and challenges throughout healthcare and the nursing profession. Throughout this journey, I have learned many lessons on loss, grief, the healing aspects of unconditional love, the importance of community, and the vital necessity of self-care through joy replenishment and restorative practices.

It was over 12 years ago in Central Park in New York City where I came to love hoop dancing. There was a sweet and joyful man with over a dozen hula hoops. He was playing the bongos, singing “The Hula Hoop” song, while tourist would pick up the hula hoops, step into the art of hoop dancing, and erupt in joy! I remember feeling a profound sense of joyful emotion in my body and in my heart while witnessing so much joy erupting from the tourists as they attempted to keep the hula hoop spinning on their bodies. It was then, that I began my own daily body & movement play practice of hoop dancing and where I began to discover my what it meant to feel embodied. Throughout my hoop dance practice, I have come to learn the healing power of body & movement play has had on balancing my mind, my body, and my soul. I began to notice that practicing this form of body & movement play allowed me to explore and experience the joy within, which became a vital self-care practice in my own journey of preventing compassion fatigue and burnout throughout my nursing career. I learned that hoop dancing was a safe place for me to release stagnant and frenetic energy within my nervous system while also facilitating my own self-exploration and self-discovery of my own unique rhythmic expression; my own unique dance. My hoop dancing practice has served as a powerful self-care tool for the balance of my mind, body, and soul, allowing me to provide a more healing and grounded presence for my students and my patients, as I guide and care for them throughout their life journey. 

Hoop dancing has served as such a powerful self-care practice that I wrote my Masters Thesis on how body & movement play through hoop dancing can serve as a transformational self-care practice to prevent burnout and compassion fatigue among nurses. Putting play into practice and making play a priority means advocating for one’s own joy. Advocating for one's own joy means practicing joyful experiences. Joyful experiences help to replenish the energy we nurses need to offer up our healing gifts in service to our patients. My eternal wish is for all humans to explore, discover, protect, practice, and express their joy, through some form of body & movement play to replenish and balance the mind, body, and soul, so that all humans feel empowered to live out their unique and natural born gifts in this world. 

Never dance in the periphery of your joy, dance in the center of it! 

Soulfully, Sweet Caroline xo


Body & Movement Play to Prevent Burnout & Compassion Fatigue Podcast

I am honored to share this AWESOME Nursing Degree Database Podcast with Keith Carlson of Nurse Keith Coaching and I:  

  • Discuss body and movement play as a basic necessity for human development from birth to death
  • Riff on the issues of burnout and compassion fatigue within the nursing profession and the issues that arise from these occupational hazards
  • Flow on joy replenishment through body and movement play to improve quality of life
  • Speak on how to invigorate the soul and root back into purpose and meaning
  • Express how I have transmutated tragedy in my life into creative action as an oncology nurse, nurse entrepreneur, joy advocate, body and movement play facilitator, and fear guide. 
  • Explore my vision for after I have completed my PhD in Psychology Meridian University

Take a listen and feel free to leave a review, questions and/or comments on the Mastering Nursing Podcast: 

Press Play to Listen & Enjoy! 

Self-Care Through Body & Movement Play For Joy Replenishment to Improve Nurse's Quality of Life 

Interested in learning more about the power of body play as a transformational form of self-care to improve nurse's quality of life? 

Check out this awesome video interview where the creator and producer of The Art of NursingElizabeth Scala, RN, MSN, MBA and I talk about the importance of body play for nurses in improving the quality of their life, sustaining their service as compassionate carers, and empowering nurses to use their unique rhythmic expression through imagination, creativity, and courage to create innovation within the profession of nursing. 

Nurses, this video is a call to action about Self-Care through Joy Replenishment!

Self-Care for Nurses through Joy Replenishment

Self-Care a Nursing Code of Ethics

After 15 years, the American Nurses Association (ANA) finally revised the Nursing Code of Ethics in 2015, which now provides legal and ethical guidelines that focus on the advocacy for patient, family, community, and collegial kindness and respect for each other, thus communicating zero tolerance for bullying and lateral violence within the workplace.  In addition, the Nursing Code of Ethics Provisions 4-6 included the maintenance of competent care that includes self respect and self care, accountability, and responsibility so that nurses continue learning and growing personally and professionally.

In addition, the ANA recognizes the psychological, emotional, spiritual, and physical strains that nurses experience when caring for patients who are sick. When nurses practice self care through joy replenishment they nourish their minds, their bodies, and their souls so to continue to offer up their healing work in service of humanity. Nurses who practice self-care, are able to come from a place of feeling grounded, balanced, whole, and present when caring for their patients and they prevent the occupational hazards of burnout and compassion fatigue, fostering a more team-play type of environment, preventing lateral violence and bullying in the workplace.


For more information on the Nursing Code of Ethics Revisions 

check out these links below:

Walden University Master of Science in Nursing Education 

I am deeply honored to be able to share "Follow Your Why" Story through Walden University "Follow Your Why" Campaign. In this mini film, I was given the platform to share my story of how my mother's tragic death from Breast Cancer at such a young age, inspired me to become an Oncology Nurse. Throughout my journey in serving as Oncology Nurse I came to discover the occupational hazards of burnout and compassion fatigue that are real and exist in healthcare today. My journey with hoopdance became a powerful form of self-care through body play that replenished my joy, allowed me to become more embodied, deceased burnout and compassion fatigue, and allowed me to provide loving and healing presence for the cancer patients that I have had the honor to serve.

Walden University equipped me with the tools I needed to achieve some of my wildest dreams of writing my Master's Thesis on "Hoopdancing to Prevent and Decrease Burnout and Compassion Fatigue Among Nurses", graduate with a Master of Science in Nursing Education, publish my Master's Thesis in the Journal of Emergency Nursing and the University of California San Diego Nursing Journal, and create, develop, guide, and lead The Hula Hoop Girl Elemental Hoopdance Classes, Workshops, and Retreats throughout the San Diego community for Nurses and for Women, with the vision of guiding women and nurses to feel empowered to cultivate their courage by replenishing their joy through body play, empowered to live an embodied life, and empowered to express their unique rhythmic expression for the world to witness and benefit.

I want to thank Walden University for helping me achieve my dreams and for giving me a platform to honor and thank my mother Grace Maria Cabañas who loved her children with all of her heart and did a superb job raising her children! I know she, as my guardian angel had much to do with blessing me with an opportunity to not only live my dreams but to share my dreams with the world. I also want to thank my family, friends, and students who have shown up day in and day out with a loving and open heart, and have believed in my vision and my mission, have encouraged me to live boldly, and who have participated in my classes, workshops, and retreats.

Hard work that comes from dedicating yourself to furthering your education has been the best and the smartest thing I have ever done that has and continues to open the doors of opportunity beyond my imagination. I have never met a person who has regretted their education. And so, if you are curious about furthering your education, don't hesitate. I can tell you from personal experience the road less traveled of furthering your education, is not an easy road, but a road that yields many amazing experiences. A road, that shapes you in the best of ways, and simply put, worth it!

Caroline Pauline Cárdenas, MSN, RN, CBCN, RYT200hr Published Articles 

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