"You can't choose the wind direction, but you can choose the position of the sails"
When weather presenter Sabine Hagedoren talked openly about the loss of her husband after a long-term illness in the TV programme Die Huis, a lot of people were quick to respond. Sabine’s positive attitude inspired others in her position and many took heart from it. “That’s why I wanted to take part in the programme”, she says now. Xandres talked to this inspiring woman, between two weather forecasts, about her work and life.
You’ve been working as a weather presenter for the VRT for 24 years now. What drives you in your job?
“Being involved in science. I studied chemistry and I’m happy that I can spend every day working on something that interests me and continues to interest me. I also like the variation in my job. Twice a day I receive a briefing from the Belgian Royal Meteorological Institute, which I use to prepare the weather forecast for the various radio channels and the television channels Eén and Canvas. As a weather presenter you are in charge of the whole process yourself. You create the weather maps, you decide what you’re going to say, what’s important that day. And you adapt the way you present your weather forecast to suit the channel’s style, so it catches the attention of listeners or viewers. It’s a multifaceted job.”
You wear Xandres on screen. Do you think your style of clothes is important?
“Before I worked for television I didn’t pay any attention to clothes. In that sense I was a typical scientist. Clothes were purely functional. But when you work for TV they’re important and over the years I’ve come to appreciate this. Your clothes do a lot for your screen presence. While I still want clothes, I wear to be comfortable, it doesn’t mean they can’t be stylish.”
“I’ve learned a lot from going shopping with a stylist. I now have a clear picture of which colours look good on me and which styles I should wear. Actually, everyone should go off for an afternoon with a stylist at least once. That way you avoid disappointment when you’re trying on clothes and you don’t buy clothes you’ll never wear. You can shop much more efficiently. Xandres is perfect for me, because its Costumelle line offers tailor-made clothes. I’m tall, I have narrow shoulders, a full bust and long arms. Not easy. But at Xandres I always find a blazer that fits me.”
Do you suffer from stress on workdays?
“Only if the weather hits the news. An average workday is always well-filled, what with the lunchtime weather forecasts, the weather talks on the radio channels and the evening weather forecasts. But if the weather is newsworthy, this means preparing additional bulletins for radio and TV, as well as on Facebook Live and so on. I always feel drained after that kind of a day.”
"Xandres is perfect for me, because its Costumelle line offers tailor-made clothes. I’m tall, I have narrow shoulders, a full bust and long arms. Not easy. But at Xandres I always find a blazer that fits me.”
How do you recharge your batteries? Do you have time for other interests besides your job?
“I like to play tennis and cycle. And I have two children, who also have their pastimes, so mum plays taxi sometimes. (laughs) But I make a point of trying to set aside some time for myself. In the winter I play tennis with friends at least once a week, in the summer twice a week. And afterwards, of course, we stay and natter for a while. It never fails to lift my spirit. I find working in the garden very relaxing as well. I like to be outside, I’m an outdoorsy person.”
You always kept your life in the spotlights and your private life very separate, until you took part in Die Huis. Did you expect the programme to cause such a stir?
“At the end of it Eric Goens, the programme maker, said to me, ‘This will really get some reactions’. My answer was, ‘I hope so, because that was my intention’. I hope people will benefit from it. I hope that people who are experiencing the same thing in their immediate environment will perhaps draw some consolation from it or find something to hang onto to help them cope with their difficult situation and their sorrow. After the broadcast I got a lot of reactions myself, people sent me emails, letters, CDs, stories. It was good. I’m glad I did it.”
What are the life lessons you want to teach your children?
“First of all, that they should be considerate towards each other and others. I think it’s really important to listen to each other and be respectful. And I believe that if you do things with love – in your job as well as your private life – you’re on the right track. I certainly want to teach them that.”
Xandres has selected you as an inspiring woman. Which women do you find inspiring?
“I can’t think of any particular examples off the top of my head. I try to pick up ideas all over the place, from men as well as women. So it’s difficult to give you a list of names. I get inspiration every day from a variety of channels, from people I just happen to meet to conversations with friends. But if you mean women in my field, in the sciences, then Marie Curie is definitely an inspiring woman. She was very important for science. And the scientific world, even today, has always been a male-dominated world, so she was certainly exceptional.”
Do you have a life motto?
“Yes, you can’t choose the wind direction, but you can choose the position of the sails. For me that means you can always forge ahead, even in a headwind. You just have to change tack. I once took a sailing course and this quote really sums up my approach to life. You can go anywhere you want, even if you have to go it in a roundabout way sometimes.”