It is a contemplative, windy, overcast March Sunday here in my part of the world. I’m at a new coffee shop, listening to Florence + The Machine sing about falling, looking out the big glass windows and thinking about life and love and loss and lust and probably all of the other four-letter L-words that are out there in the world.

2011 was a very bad year. I write that and realize that it sounds more absolute than it really was, because of course there were amazing and wonderful things sending up shoots into the sun even as the world was burning down around me. Still, overall, I can write that and know it to be true.

2011 brought: Betrayal. Heartbreak. Grief. Sickness. Sadness. Confusion. Things happened, as they do. And you go on, as you do. But it changes everything. It changed me. I tried to follow my heart and ended up hurting people who are in my heart, which is pretty fucked up when you sit down and think about it. I lost the ability to trust myself, which is perhaps the worst kind of trust to lose.

In 2011, I also stopped writing fiction. Again, a blanket statement that doesn’t fully capture what really happened. I wrote some fiction. I wrote a few short stories and a bad novel. But I didn’t finish much and I didn’t submit hardly anything. The reasons for that are confusing and complicated, and I’ve been through this cycle before, so while it pains me a lot to be in a non-writing phase, I do know that it won’t last forever. Still, the place of not writing is a bad place for me — and that IS a blanket statement that is also a true statement.

As the fall of 2011 rolled in and a new year approached, I felt big changes coming on the horizon, but I didn’t know what they would be. I hoped they would be good. For me, for my writing, for those I loved. I had long ago decided that this year, the year I turned 40 would be my year of yes. I didn’t know what that meant either. I was nervous. After all, 2011 had sucked. What if I couldn’t do a year of yes? What if it also sucked? What if I couldn’t pull myself out of the well?

Then, near the end of 2011, I met two people who changed my life. That sounds trite, doesn’t it, cliche almost, to say someone changed your life? And yet it’s true for me. I consider them true mentors, true friends, true loves. My life would be incomplete without them now, and I am ever grateful for their presence. They, along with a few other very special people in my life, helped guide me toward this new year and whatever it might bring for me.

To my delight, I’ve already said yes to a lot of fantastic things this year, things that came my way that were just too damn good to even consider saying no to. In less than a month, I turn 40 and I officially begin my Year of Yes (a year that began, almost accidentally, before the new year even began).

My 40th year will be a Yes Year in many ways, but right now I have the opportunity to make it specifically a Yes to Writing Year. A Yes to Following My Heart Year. A Yes to Loving and Living Year. A Yes to Leaving Fear Behind Year. A Yes to Exploration and Joy and Growth. All good things.

I’ll be announcing the official writing plan soon. I’m really really excited about it. In fact, I’m pretty bouncy about the whole damn thing. 2012 is turning into a very good year indeed.

Kiss kiss bang bang, s.