THE BLOG

Taking Stock: Answering the Proust Questionnaire

02/20/2015 05:11 pm ET | Updated Apr 22, 2015
Barbara Lee

In a recent post, I encouraged women to take stock of their lives to find out what moves them, how they can contribute to women's equality and how to make and keep resolutions that can improve the world. The Proust questionnaire is such a fun, reflective part of that process (it's my favorite section of Vanity Fair).

As you may know, this stream-of-consciousness exercise originates with the famous French writer Marcel Proust, who thought answering these questions revealed a person's deepest thoughts.

I'm usually the one asking questions. For this post, I'll be answering them while my executive director Adrienne Kimmell asks them. For more from Adrienne's point of view, check out her blog at www.barbaralee.com.

What is your most marked characteristic?
Boundless enthusiasm

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Being steadfast in my mission. I'm so proud that my nonpartisan foundation has studied every woman's race for governor on both sides of the aisle for nearly 20 years, and I've personally helped elect 132 women in 30 states (and counting). And, of course, raising two great sons.

What is your greatest fear?
To quote FDR, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."

What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Being in nature, in good health, with loving relationships, and a woman in the White House

What historical figure do you most identify with?
Lucy Stone, Boston's most famous suffragist

Who is your hero of fiction?
Wonder Woman, of course

Who are your heroes in real life?
Hillary Rodham Clinton, and every woman with the grace and grit to run for office

What is the trait you most deplore in others?
Intolerance

What is your favorite journey?
From self-doubt to self empowerment

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
Standing firm in your beliefs -- to the point of becoming closed-minded and inflexible

What is your current state of mind?
Optimistic

If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be?
Their physical distance

What is your most treasured possession?
Artist Barbara Kruger's untitled piece that reads: "We will no longer be seen and not heard"

Where would you like to live?
Martha's Vineyard

What is your favorite occupation?
Professional feminist

What is the quality you most like in a woman?
Confidence and compassion

What is the quality you most like in a man?
The exact same things, plus feminism

What is your greatest extravagance?
Living life on my own terms. And collecting contemporary art by women.

Which talent would you most like to have?
The ability to change my car's oil, battery and tires

What is your greatest regret?
Taking a while to realize my power and come into my own

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
I don't like to judge others, and I strive to give myself that same courtesy

What is the word or phrase you most overuse?
"Great!"

What is your motto?
"Failure is impossible." -Susan B. Anthony

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