I moved out here 10 years ago when I was 13 years old. And in those adolescent years, I was basically in a new country, didn’t know anyone and had no friends or family except for my immediate family. That’s when I took to writing.

It’s when you’re trying to find that comfort zone or your niche, and your place of belonging. It’s so funny how that works because a lot of the friends I have, I’ve made through blogging before blogging was even a thing. I had a lot of pen pals from different parts of the world.

I wrote and blogged as an adolescent and that’s how I started writing. Through Tumblr there was a New York City meet up and I knew people from places like San Diego and Maryland who would come out here and meet at the red steps at Times Square and we would wear our handles on our t-shirts. It stopped after awhile, maybe after Instagram started, and people started to transition from there to do more photo work. All of my friends were from different parts of the state and it was so cool to be connected in the blogging world.

I never thought that I’d actually get somewhere with Instagram. For me it was just a platform where I shared my thoughts, my writing, and my stories. I actually just really enjoyed meeting with people and having coffee and that was my goal a few years ago, to find new places who created latte art and that started my obsession for coffee to where I became a barista.

I came up with “A Cup of Keen” a lot later. I had a friend from California who was a pen pal of mine and we haven’t met each other in person, but we’re best friends. We would always write each other letters and we would Skype, but one day he called me and asked me where I was and of course I was in a coffee shop in New York City just writing – then he had said that he wished he could be there and have his ‘cup of Keen,’ and that name had just stuck with me and it clicked!

If it wasn’t for Instagram I would be doing what I used to do back in the day, write and do different projects. My initial plan was to create a solid piece of writing and send it off to different publishing houses and see if anyone would like to work with me. Now it’s changed to where I am attending a lot of events and especially food events, because NYC is known for their restaurant scene.

Two of my favorite projects I’ve taken on just through blogging and photography have to be NYONAIR, they invited me to fly over NYC. You literally feel on top of the world! I literally dangled my feet over the Empire State Building and I’m scared of heights, so that was one fear I really had to overcome. The photos that came after were so worth it! Even to this day, I look back at those photos and think about how amazing that experience was. The other one was getting to shoot for the Olympics for the Rio Games. They had asked me to take photographs of one of the gold medalists for boxing. I followed his day to day and got to photograph him in Jersey and it was so great to see them use my photos and it’s up on the Team USA website, Dick’s Sporting Goods, and all of that. You just really never know.

Imagine if I never started blogging or doing any of this, none of these opportunities would have came to me. If I weren’t doing this, I still feel like I’d be doing a lot of creative work. I love being productive and staying busy. I think that if I just stayed at home all day, I wouldn’t feel proud of myself.

I want to have a coffee table type of book where I pair stories to images. For me, I get to learn the story behind the photo by learning more about the photographer and I get to create poetry out of it. It’s something in the works. Everything I’ve written has been so personal.

You want to be proud of what you put out there. You can’t force it.

Follow Keen

Instagram: @acupofkeen
Website: keensdiary.com