Beyonce‘s beautiful face is featured on the cover of the July 2011 issue of Essence Magazine, where she opens up about “the year that changed [her] life.”

Peep an excerpt from the cover story, which was penned by Beyonce herself (for the first time), below:

“I had talked about taking a vacation before, but always ended up in the studio after two weeks, so no one believed me. This time, though, I was serious. I was going to give myself a year to do the things I never get to do. Simple things like play with my nephew, pick him up from school, visit museums, go to concerts, see some Broadway shows, learn to cook a meal and spend time with my husband…Yes, I needed some relaxation, but I wanted inspiration too, from regular, everyday things. They did not have to be over-the-top productions. I was looking for tiny moments that would speak to my heart and make me smile…”

The 29-year-old’s new album “4” is scheduled to hit stores later this month (June 28), and the second single from the project was released yesterday. Click here to take a listen!