What started out as a regular day at work changed Cassie Lim’s life forever. On 11 March 2011, her office building began to rumble violently beneath her feet. Trapped in the heart of the devastating Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, she dashed for the nearest stairwell in panic and she stumbled her way down to the ground floor – only to find the exit doors, locked.
Cassie was all alone in the locked stairwell for the next twenty minutes. She went from fear to hopelessness and back. “So what if I was dressed in these fine clothes? So what if I had a great career and could travel the world?” she thought to herself. “If the building were to collapse, I would just be nothing but a pile of dust.”
“In the face of death, all the things I was chasing after became not so important anymore,” Cassie added. It was at that moment when she realised the things that made life worth living are relationships, love and courage.
That was the beginning of a new chapter for Cassie, who set out on a journey to celebrate the stories of courageous people around the world. She went on to set up Be Movement, a Singapore-based socially conscious publication that seeks to inspire its readers to focus on what matters.
Cassie at the Be Movement pop-up store at Liang Court
Before she founded Be Movement, Cassie was an international correspondent. She had the chance to travel and live in many countries. “Life overseas has taught me to let go and be open,” she said, reflecting on the lessons learnt from living abroad. “Many people bring their mindsets with them when they travel and they’re almost cocooned in a bubble of their preconceptions.”
Coming home was a beautiful finale to years of living abroad. “After spending so many years travelling, I see that there are many other lifestyles and ways of thinking. There is no right or wrong - it’s just what suits you,” she said. “For me, there’s definitely a very Singaporean part of me that keeps calling me back - the people, the food, the racial harmony and the comfort.”
“It is as if I have never felt more Singaporean than when I am away from Singapore,” she added.
Cassie Lim (bottom right) with the Be Movement team at their Christmas dinner last December.
As part of the Golden Jubilee celebrations this year, Cassie and her team approached 50 different Singaporeans for a special SG50 issue of Be Movement. “Producing the SG50 issue is just my small way of giving back to my home country which has given me so much,” she said. “It is also a culmination of thoughts from the wonderful team and people I’ve met and learnt from around the world.”
Rather than focusing on the fine things in life like achievements and awards, Cassie wanted the interviews to be no-holds-barred. As a result, these stories dove into the interviewees’ insights, stories and life journeys. “What surprised us was how deep some of the reflections were. We were also struck by how similar some of the responses were, and how open-minded they the interviewees were in general,” she said.
“I share many of the sentiments expressed by these 50 red dots (interviewees), fro being more appreciative of Singapore, to loving the freedom and space that comes from letting go of our familiar shore,” Cassie added. “Producing this special SG50 issue filled me with an inexplicable feeling of warmth.”
Cassie (far left) with some of the contributors for Be Movement’s special SG50 issue.
Coming from a country she calls a ‘famous success story’, Cassie has always been proud to wear the Singaporean identity on her sleeve. “Carrying the Singapore ‘brand’ during the course of my work has subconsciously made me act to the best of my abilities,” she said. “Being Singaporean has also helped me connect and communicate with different people all around the world,” she added, commenting on the nature of Singapore’s multiculturalism.
As she discovers more about people, courage and life, she often reflects back on her relationships with loved ones. “Some people you may not meet for years, yet when you meet again, it’s like you’ve just met them only last week,” she said. “Relationships to me, are measured not by time spent but by the depth of feelings when you are together.” With those words, Cassie continues on her journey to reach out to more people, and to inspire them with diverse stories from extraordinary people.
The Be Movement SG50 hard copy issues are available for sale (SGD18.50) at their pop-up store in Liang Court, as well as Kinokuniya, BooksActually, Allscript and other major bookstores. You may also place an order online on their website at www.be-movement.com.
You may visit the link here for a complimentary e-copy of the Be Movement SG50 issue.