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On Snowboarding, with Shawna Paoli

By Katherine Donnelly on

snowboarding shawna backcountry splitboarding

When we bring people into the TREW family as an ambassador, what we look for is something far past just the tally of followers, likes, cliffs stomped, face shots, days in a season. Rather, it's something that you can't quite measure in words. It's more of a feeling, a radiance; a unique blend of style, talent, personality, and positivity.  

But instead of stumbling through awkward sentences in search the right words to explain the unexplainable, let us pass the torch to someone who embodies this essence to a tee. Here's Shawna Paoli, in a non-interview style interview of sorts (thanks, Austin for this idea!) that gets right down to the heart of what we love so much about this community of passionate individuals. She TREWly gets it - and we hope that you will not only enjoy her writing below, but will also one day have the good fortune to run into her on a mountain so that you get to witness + bask in her shining soul in person.


shawna snowboarding backcountry


Sore legs
Stoke is high
These are the days 
That never die
When we roll outta bed 
We feel half dead
But we work all year 
To get this bread
And when we eat
It's oh so sweet
These are the days
That never die 


It's wild how one word can mean so many things - there are so many different ways snowboarding can serve you and show up in your life, as it's done for me. It's been fun, dance, self expression, meditation, a practice, sport, pain, ecstasy, community, challenge, consistency, therapy, a means of identification. With all its fluidity, it's no wonder I wind up feeling I need it like water; it fills in all the gaps. But like everything, it doesn't come without a cost and this habit is pricey, let's be real.

Work unfavorable jobs and forgo careers so you have the time to go snowboarding? Yup. Choose the unheated living space because it's cheaper? Duh, it's called LAYERING. Get your clothes from free piles on the side of the road and eat grocery store compost scraps to save a buck? Let me at that free half-mushy sweet potato. Ride $5 snowboards because they're going to hit rocks anyways? Let’s go. Live in a bathroom-less RV for 5 years to live close enough to some of the most special terrain in the world? I'm there, literally. 

Do you see what I'm talking about here? To snowboard all the time is expensive and requires a lot of privilege and I'm sure some of you can relate to the above scenarios. I'm lucky enough and insanely grateful to get support these days, but there's still no denying the barrier to entry and privilege required to even just get on a chairlift. I also want to point out how easy it is to compare our lives on Instagram and how hard it is to see the whole picture - we have to stop measuring worth in likes and followers, for our own mental health.

So first off, here's to us - the underdogs, the dirtbags, the soulboarders - who are making it work and in it for so many reasons it's hard to imagine what else we would possibly do with our lives, besides appear as complete degenerates to the outside world that apparently exists on the other side of our glass snow globe dome. I can’t help but feel bad for those who might see us like this though, because this feeling we continuously seek and feel cannot be taught in schools or earned on salary and they might spend their whole lives searching for it. 

It feels like exposing a dirty secret to say I think the meaning of life can be found in a good pow turn. I am my most authentic, happy, highest self in these moments and I believe everyone deserves to feel this and get to know this part of themselves - everyone deserves the opportunity to experience this life-enhancing, transformative vehicle that is snowboarding.

I have mad respect for talent, but am drawn to heart. The sacrifices people make to do what they love, the eye for oppression and doing the work to fix it. The energy you leave with others, the opportunities you create to share your privilege if you have it, to bring others up, to include people and share the feeling - these are things that imprint lives - things that can make a sizable dent. They have a ripple effect and travel further than we realize outside of our community.

How long do you want to snowboard? This is a question I ask myself as I get older. I find myself weighing risk more and more with the years - self-preservation taking priority over getting rad, riding switch more to even out the crookedness my body has taken on from standing sideways so often. Being injured sucks, not only because you're injured but because of the mental toll it takes; don't forget about your mental health - it's probably actually more important than your physical health (go read the book "The Biology of Belief"). I guess what I'm saying here is health is wealth, and after all I've still gotta work to get that bread. Oh, and I want to snowboard till I die so that's going to take some good health. 

At the end of the day, it's all about a feeling. How does it make you feel? How does it make others feel? Its pretty obvious but for some reason I had to hear it for it to click - I recently read that our feelings are our compass in life leading us from one thing to the next. Do and support what feels good and good things will follow - the law of attraction, amirite? 

Wishing you goodness,

Shawna, aka Meatstick

Shawna meat stick snowboarding

Do yourself a favor and go give her a follow on the Instagram, although she will be a bit radio silent for a hot minute as she is currently on a fishing boat for the summer "getting that bread".

And if you are ever up in the Mt. Baker area look for that signature style on any given day. She may not always be rocking her 'Meatstick Red' color way, but you'll still be able to recognize those soulful turns and the radiant smile shining from anywhere. 

Feature photo + last photo of Shawna by Zoya Lynch.

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