5 Things I’m Doing Differently This MCO

You’ve seen one MCO, you’ve seen them all right? Well, not quite for me. While I had been getting used to Zoom calls long before the lockdown, there was some recalibration needed because we couldn’t actually go out and meet people, and really had more time to get things done at home. The thing is we had to figure out a way to manage both “home work” and “work work”, and achieving a clear separation of it took a little bit of time. After that, though, every iteration of the MCO (EMCO, FMCO, RMCO, etc. – they all began blending into one another!) was a small readjustment – but also a constant normalisation of new habits and mindsets that I felt were actually positive and beneficial to me in the long run.

So when this new MCO hit, I was primed and ready to try new things, not only as a challenge to keep myself purposeful and energised, but to really make the most of every moment, not take anything for granted, and to just be grateful for all the wonderful things (and people, of course!) that are in my life. So here, in no particular order, are FIVE things that have changed for me (or that I have consciously changed!) this MCO.

Dare to Self-Care

As someone who is more often than not outwardly focused, this MCO I decided to give some attention to myself. Not that I generally let myself fall into neglect or anything, but really taking the time to look at ME – ALL of me – has really made a difference. That means finding ways to fill up my time that’s not just zoning out with Netflix, but ZONING IN on aspects that I may have overlooked before. There’s so much I can do at home that I never thought of doing before, so of course, I overcompensated this time around, kicking off a host of DIY craft projects that (fortunately or unfortunately) ended up in the cupboards and larders and tabletops of friends and family.

And while I was cluttering up their spaces with my creations, I was also, slowly but surely, decluttering my own space.

It’s incredible how much… STUFF I have that I may not need, yet may be of use to others. At the same time, the more I cleared out, THE MORE CLEAR I BECAME.

Now I really get why people put so much stock in mindful decluttering, because boy, does it put things into perspective. How much you want but don’t need, how much you have but don’t really see, and how little it takes to bring you joy; there really is a case for simple, minimalist living, if that’s where you want to be. For me, well, there are things that I love, so I’ll let them “clutter” up my wardrobe a little while longer, LOL.

Don’t Torture Your Posture

Spending hours every day in front of the computer having discussions, setting up meetings and generally getting things done may keep you super productive – but it’s a real killer for your posture, among other things. I admit that I have NEVER spent as much time glued to my screen as I have this MCO, and it’s really done a number on my body. And eyes. And skin (computer face, NOOOOOOOOO!)

Fortunately for me, I been practicing pilates for some time now, and during the latest MCO it was just a small leap to online pilates. The thing about pilates is that no matter how long you’ve been doing it, there will be some part of your body crying out for release, especially if your posture throughout the day has been terrible. The good thing is that even just a short session after a long day comes with effects that are quite visible, whether in terms of posture, microcirculation or just general well-being. So, long story short, because of pilates, things are also more… regular (you know what I mean right?), my concentration has improved, and I’ve been sleeping better than ever (even without wine – but that’s another story altogether). So YAY ME! And yes, come join me for pilates, when you can.

Girl Got Some Skillz

If that’s one thing I was intent on doing this MCO, it was upskilling. Most of the previous times I was either catching up on things, making sure things were running properly, and keeping people going; this time I knew I had to bring something new to life for myself. So yes, I decided to make the best of whatever time I had available by learning things online. Not just random things, mind you; things that I already had an interest in, had a working knowledge of, and wanted to expand myself with. I decided that they would all be wellness-focused, except in different ways – pilates teacher’s training for the body; an essential oil deep dive for the mind; and chocolate-making for the soul. Because to me, well-being comes in so many exciting forms, and all you have to do to make it work for you is find it IN THINGS YOU LOVE.

Staying Connected

I’m not by any means a social creature; yes, it’s true, I love having my own space and time to just be with myself. However, humans are made for interaction, and I do find joy in connecting with people at a deeper level. I also understand that other people may have a need to connect, and I’m ever ready to be that avenue of support for them. Especially at this time, when it’s easy to get isolated and be bogged down by feelings of loneliness, just reaching out with a text, a voice message, a quick phone call, can make a whole world of difference. I feel that the pandemic has slightly reversed the course we were headed when we started to become overly dependent on technology; we ACTUALLY now use Whatsapp and Telegram TO TALK to people, not just share nonsense, and social media isn’t just a place for pretty pictures of your best life, but a space to interact in a real, meaningful way. If I had said that two, three years ago, you would have laughed in my face. But you’re nodding your head slightly now, right?

ANYWAY, this MCO I started using new ways to “meet” with people I hadn’t talked with for a long time, or those I had JUST met for the first time. I do regular Zoom hangouts – not meetings, just really, well, hanging out – to pulse check and create a space to listen. Like a lot of other people I know, I’ve also been sending out wellness kits (my own creations!) to friends who are stressed out. Oh and, not to brag, I conducted my largest DIY party EVER on Zoom with 120 people, where we gathered to make DIY crafts. So if you want to connect, you know where to find me.

Not Just a Flavour of the Month

For real; chocolates aren’t just an indulgence or a hobby for me, they’re part of my plan for world domination. If I’m laughing madly, it’s because of all the endorphins from constant chocolate testing. Which isn’t a complaint, really, because it’s as fun as it sounds. It’s not just new flavours that I’ve been working with the team to come up with; I’ve also been overhauling the packaging design, crafting new content, and discussing with potential partners for exciting new collaborations! And I can’t wait to share with you everything that we’ve got in store for the coming months. So stay tuned!


Penny Choong

Penny Choong is the founder of Penny Essentials and leader of Savvy Oilers, one of the largest essential oils community in Malaysia and is a champion of holistic health and wellness. From pilates and chocolates to financial workshops, art classes and gourmet collaborations, Penny’s philosophy on wellness is as wide-ranging as it is inclusive – for a good reason. To her, wellness comes in many forms, all viable, as long as one finds purpose and joy in it.

The most important element to wellness, however, is connection, which is why today, she leads a community of over 38,000 people who support each other in staying the course on their life-long journey to holistic well-being.

While centred on the use of essential oils and natural products as a way of life, Penny’s varied initiatives and engagements include wellness workshops, meditative art sessions, co-creation with artisanal brands, entrepreneurship sharing, and, most recently, chocolate making.

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