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Articles by Cleo Ngiam

Cleo Ngiam

Cleo Ngiam

Graphic & Web Designer at Melewi
Cleo Ngiam is a writer, designer, simple cooking enthusiast, and a travelling junkie.

The value of living a full life

Posted on January 22, 2014

If ever you’ve heard the short excerpt on What if Money was No Object speech from Alan Watts, you’ll be no short of feeling fully inspired and just, well, gosh darn it, you want to do what you love right now.

As Watts eloquently said “Better to have a short life that is full of which you like doing than a long life spent in a miserable way.”

Alan Watts - Philosopher, Writer and Speaker, spreading the Eastern philosophy to Western audiences

Alan Watts – Philosopher, Writer and Speaker, spreading the Eastern philosophy to Western audiences

It seems rather unfortunate, isn’t it. We’re so wrapped up in bills, and payments, and loans and mortgages and the never ending cycle of paying off someone or some thing that we’ve seen it as the norm to lead our lives. As if we’re just living to pass by this stage of life to move on to the next. Not really realising that if this is our only chance to be here, how do we want to experience it?

Of course, we can’t deny that the world runs with money. We pay taxes to feel safe and secure. We pay rent to have a roof over our heads. We pay the creation of food, art and entertainment to enjoy life. So yes, having money can provide us opportunities. It can get us out of debt and it can allow us to experience new things. But when we start thinking it’s the only means to obtain all those things, or even appreciate what we have, then we’ve missed the true value of self, life, and relationships.


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Celebrating the courage to be

Cassie Lim: Celebrating the Courage to be

Posted on July 12, 2013

“That’s the beauty of be movement. It cuts across all nationalities, all races, because at the end of the day, everyone just wants to be.”

– Cassie Lim, Founder of be movement

Cassie Lim Founder of be movement left her decade long career in the corporate world behind to begin this new platform of inspiring others to be.

Cassie Lim Founder of be movement left her decade long career in the corporate world behind to begin this new platform of inspiring others to be.

Celebrating the courage to be.

The tagline of this seemingly simple publication, be movement is about saluting the brave, acknowledging the everyday heroes, capturing the insightful lessons of the dreamers, and most of all, inspiring you and I that having the courage to be is the first step to achieving our dreams. It paints an honest picture of genuine stories, meant to trigger the mind, reassure the heart and invigorate the soul.

Cassie Lim, founder of be movement, worked in the corporate field for more than a decade before a life-changing experience made her rethink about her purpose in life. Calm, soft-spoken and fiercely passionate and dedicated, Cassie reflects on her journey.


Cassie: Back in 11 March 2011, I was caught in the middle of the Japan earthquake. There was a moment where I was trapped alone in a locked stairwell, with the entire building shaking on top of me. In the face of death, all the things I was chasing after weren’t so important anymore. Especially tangible things like wealth, money, success. Suddenly, they were no longer important. If the building were to collapse on me, I would just be nothing but a pile of dust. After that, through a series of soul searching, I had come to realise that what was really important were the intangibles. Things that you can’t see but what makes life worth living. Intangibles such as courage, diversity, the human spirit…things that put a smile on people’s faces. Things that make you feel something in your gut. Things that make you want to burst out of this physical body that we have. It is the underlying spirit that unifies us all. And that spirit is what makes us human—and what be movement hopes to celebrate.


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The negotiation with pirates. Illustrations by Ng Weng Chi

How My Dad Fought Pirates

Posted on June 5, 2013


Illustrations by Ng Weng Chi


I want to tell you a story. One of courage, compassion, fear and cowardice.

It is about how my dad fought pirates.

My father would relate this story often to my friends. Making the same exclamations and the same hand gestures for dramatic effect. He wouldn’t miss a beat on the story because it happened during a significant time for him—a time of great struggle. This period had taught him many great things and telling this story was his way of passing his own life morals to others.

In a nutshell, my father is in the shipping business. Buying and selling boats, he is a person made of suits, glasses, old-Chinese-cinema honour and old-fashioned perceptions of integrity. He would come across almost like a stereotyped Asian father. Protective, firm, proud of his work, and most of all, endearing in unexpected ways. But like any long-time entrepreneur, his stories and life experiences run deep.

It was a tough year for anyone. Economy was down and business was just not going well for anyone. But my dad finally got a buyer. The ship was ready to be moved from the origin of production down to the determined destination. It would take about four months and a few days for the whole journey. The trip was smooth sailing and everything seemed to work out perfectly.

But on the last day of travel, my father got a call. The ship, and its crew, were caught by pirates.

My dad lifted his hand and smacked it on his forehead. “Oh shit. What do we do now?”


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How To Love What You Do When You Don’t Know What To Do

Posted on May 22, 2013

7am. I wake. I find myself stumbling around for the Snooze button. I hesitate to open my eyes fully. And then I realise, it’s Monday. My head collapses back on the pillow willingly.

There’s always a point in our lives where we have felt that. We dread it. We mope about it. We complain about it. We over react when there’s cake in the office because it means I can stop work and enjoy some indulgent eating. And we jump for joy when we can get a three day weekend.

Previously, the motivation for work meant food available consistently on the table or new clothes to buy for that one time of the year. Your focus is your children. To have them grow up healthy and more educated than you. Because living enough was everything.

Then it progressed to you taking over your family’s business and keeping the family name and reputation in tact. You have seen and understand the tears and sweat of your parents’ hard work so you try to carry it on to make them proud. Working hard to sustain not only your family but providing an excess of space and money for them. Because living more comfortably meant a happier life.

Now, we have been swallowed by the luxury of excess and choices that we begin to question the work we have been told to take over. We realise that although we need to keep working hard to keep our luxuries in tact, we wonder if these items make us happy.

There’s a shift in focus. What is the meaning of my work? Where do I see myself going? Do I want maximum glamour to upkeep my life in this manner? Is it really worth it?

Six months ago, I was back from being gone from my home country for a long period of time. It was time to find a new job. Time to make a clear path of my work life was going to be. I was largely in a state of confusion and panic as I felt like my path was not where I wanted to go. And so it began. Reading articles ranging from How to Find Fulfilling Work to tracing every career step of my favourite designers, to collecting numerous quotes and phrases that helped spur me in my quest to find my way, I’ve decided to list a few of the advice I’ve followed and my conclusions from this period of a somewhat non sequitur journey.



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One Question on Determining the Value of Creativity

Posted on April 2, 2013

Each series will pose a single question and a selection of creatives around the world will be invited to answer.

Question 2:
How do you value your work?

Beth Hetland, USA Cartoonist and Faculty Member at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago www.beth-hetland.comBeth Hetland, USA
Cartoonist and Faculty Member at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago

This is a difficult question. I feel like my work is invaluable to me. But at the same time, I sell my work to the public so it has to have a value. By investing in my work, it becomes invaluable to me. That value will become apparent to another person and they give me value to keep making work. It’s really a big circle of appreciation, enjoyment and persistence. One of the things that I think is unique about art is that the value fluctuates from viewer to viewer. I can hope that the value my audience feels when they read my work is purely based on the work itself, but sometimes it’s from a recommendation of a friend or a conversation with the artist. Part of what I think about when making my work is how to tell a story that is both universal and individual. By widening my audience, more people have the opportunity to feel a connection with what they are reading and with whom created it. When making my work, I ask for criticism and feedback from my peers to better my practice. The persistence of maintaining an art-making practice is a large part of how I value my work. I spend time with it, nurture it, help it grow and develop, but most importantly I care about it.


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