Kill Your Own Buffalo


My new life is like a buffalo. It is a beast.

Menacing and unpredictable, I have no control over it. It could stampede at any moment and leave me flat on my back gasping for breath.

But it’s MY buffalo. And it’s my job to conquer it. No one else’s.

The pioneers marveled at how tough a buffalo’s skin was as they made the trek to Zion. Bullets would literally bounce off their skin. So how do you kill a buffalo? The Native Americans could take one down with a primitive, but well placed, arrow to the heart. They were masters at killing buffalo.

And that says something to me: “To kill my own buffalo I have to strike at the heart of the matter. And recognize my purpose in slaying my buffalo.”

My purpose is my recovery. My purpose is working on me.

Buffalo are both a blessing and a curse. Brigham Young cautioned the pioneers not to kill buffalo unnecessarily, wisely observing: “If we slay when we have no need, we will need when we cannot slay.”

So I save my arrows carefully and remember that killing a buffalo with the right intentions is crucial. Otherwise, that buffalo just might rise back up from the dead more furious and dangerous.  And then I will have spent and lost an arrow in the process. I can’t kill it out of resentment, but out of clear need.

When a buffalo was killed, nothing was wasted. Hides were for clothing, leather and blankets, hooves were boiled for glue, meat for food, sinew for bows, dried dung for fire starters, and on and on.

A buffalo was a blessing because from that unruly beast came sustenance, comfort and resources to get through another day. It was needed dearly.

How true this is in my life. I kill my buffalo daily–but only one piece at a time. And I make sure that piece isn’t wasted because each piece is necessary in my recovery.  And no matter how small that piece may be, I regard it as a great victory. The curse yields blessings. And I praise that kill.

I work my recovery–I kill my buffalo–piece by piece regardless of whether or not my husband chooses to do the same with his.

I take ownership of my life. I paint those baseboards I’ve been waiting on him to do for months. I’ll take down the Christmas lights. I’ll clean up the backyard.

And I’ll accomplish all this without resentment. I use my arrows carefully.

I’ll take pride in killing my own buffalo and stay accountable for the things I am certainly capable of accomplishing.

I don’t wait for my husband to kill his own buffalo. Because that won’t do a darn thing about mine. I don’t expect my husband to kill my buffalo for me, either.

I do it myself. And it feels fantastic. I slay the beast. I kill my buffalo. I do a victory dance.

I celebrate with my own personal pow-wow. And then I do it all over again the next day.

(I was introduced to this awesome concept over at Thank you.)


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