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People of NKY: In pursuit of happiness, Annie Venerable found Matt, a career, and rehabbing

By Ginger Dawson
NKyTribune reporter

Life is a long journey.  

For some people, it is an easy, linear path. They grow up, do the things that are expected of them by society and family, and by all accounts, seem to be happy.

Annie with Olive and Griffy on the porch of the house in Ludlow. (Photo by Ginger Dawson)

For others, there are twists and turns that go in directions not foreseen. And the thing is, even though staying on course would seem to be the sensible, easy thing to do, these individuals cannot bring themselves to settle for it. They are faced, unexpectedly and quite by surprise, with an existential question.  Are they happy?

How do you know if you’re happy? For example, in romance, how do you know that you’ve met the right person?

People always say that when you’ve met the right one, you will know.

When Annie Venerable sought guidance from friends and confidants about just this topic, her next question would invariably be, “How do you KNOW that you know?” This was a conundrum that troubled her for a long time.

Annie had always had a very independent streak. She easily followed her own compass and made choices that would always give her control over her life, so it was especially troubling to her that she couldn’t come to terms with this one important question.

In 1996, upon graduating from Clinton-Massie High School in Clarksville, Ohio, she went off to college to Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio.

During college, she secured a job with GE Capital, the finance division of General Electric. She worked her way up to the training department, writing manuals, and as a perk of this job, GE paid her tuition. Working and going to school full-time, she received a Bachelor of Arts in Technical Writing in 2001.

One of the spirit animal Praying Mantises that portended an epiphany! (Photo provided)

Now, Annie’s parents would have been happy to help her pay for her college.  But, this independent streak of hers would not allow it. She was self-sufficient and by her account, “Did not want to play by anyone else’s rules.”

As a consequence, when she finished school, no outstanding debt on her education remained. Not many of her peers could say that.

It was time to move forward and get married. This is the next step, right?

But then, that troubling question about knowing when you’ve found the right person—it still wasn’t answered. This was a puzzle that she didn’t know how to solve, so right before graduation, Annie married. Maybe it would answer itself, in the affirmative, in time. She was 22 years old.

The marriage was everything, by appearance, that a good one ought to be. They liked and respected each other. They did everything married couples should do.  But, to Annie, it just didn’t feel right.

Annie tormented herself over her uncertainty and its impact on both of them.

The questions became “What if I ended this?  Would I have regrets?  What if this thing or that thing happened?” She had no answers for these, either.

Anne’s first major renovation located in Mainstrasse. (Photo by Ginger Dawson)

Then, in 2011, something weird start happening. Praying mantises started showing up. She was at a concert in Louisville with some friends. A Praying Mantis fell out of the sky and landed in front of her. One landed on the seat beside her.

At work, one was on the door. When she got in her car, there was one on the windshield! They seemed to be turning up everywhere.  She thought, “What is the deal with these bugs?!”

The thing is, Annie hates bugs. And even though she had grown up in the country, she couldn’t recollect ever having seen a Praying Mantis before. And since they are just about the biggest insects around, these appearances were hard to miss and were very jarring for her to deal with. Ugh.

It got to be so incessant, she couldn’t just ignore this phenomenon as coincidental.  Driven beyond a logical explanation, she finally came to believe that she was getting a distinct message from a higher power.  Research pushed her toward the existence of spirit animal totems, an idea sometimes attributed to Native American/New Age spirituality.
An answer! The Praying Mantis, in that canon, represents taking a step back and listening to the small inner voice that can get drowned out with so much action and chaos in life. Even though she hated the damn things, at least now, she could see a value in what they seemed to be trying to communicate to her.

Annie the year she graduated from high school, 1996. (Photo provided)

Heeding this, Annie took a walk on a beautiful summer day and sat down in a field.  She took the time to be quiet, be still and pay attention.

She had an epiphany. She realized that, with all of her uncertainty regarding her marriage, she had been asking herself the wrong question.

The question was not “What if?” There is no definitive answer to that without a crystal ball.

This endless roadblock had prevented her from making a necessary decision.  The marriage needed to end.

The right question comes next. “Then what?” THIS she could answer.

The marriage did end. In 2012, she moved to Covington. She moved into a condo in Governor’s Point on Second St. in the Historic Licking Riverside. She didn’t know a soul.

Friends wondered why she went there. She had had a breakthrough with trusting her intuition and finally learned to listen to her inner voice. “It just felt right.”

This condo needed updating, and Annie discovered that she totally enjoyed renovating it, adding a new kitchen and rethinking the space. She won a Friends of Covington Beautification Award for it that same year.

This was just the beginning. She was ready to do another one. She told her realtor that she wanted a BIG project, next.

He had one for her. A completely gutted brick Italianate townhouse in the Mainstrasse Village was calling her name. The only thing left in this place was the original staircase.

Annie and the love of her life, Matt Venerable. She KNEW. (Photo provided)

When she had friends come over to see the big project, they questioned her sanity. In fact, one day, when she was taking interior pictures, she stepped back and fell through the floor!

She was lucky she didn’t break her neck. She was just a little cut up, and she and the contractor who was touring with her that day decided that it was a necessary blood-letting for the future health of the project. It must have worked.

Over the next three years, Annie rehabbed the house and lived there. It is beautiful. In fact, up to this point in her life, it is one of her proudest accomplishments, having had the vision and the know-how to complete the project.

Around these same years, she met Matt Venerable. This time, when she asked herself if he was the right person, she KNEW. No need to second guess. They married in June of 2015.

Up to this time, after several years at General Electric, she had taken a job at Standard Textile in downtown Cincinnati. This was in 2007. Her position was managing sales support teams all over the country.

It was a good job, but she really enjoyed this real estate thing. Matt thought that she might like getting more involved with it as a career. She thought that being a Realtor was mostly a sales job and she didn’t want to be a “sales person.”

But, she went ahead and got her license in 2016. She quickly found out that rather than being focused on selling, the real job of a Realtor is to provide a service. Buying or selling a house (as many know) is a very stressful thing to go through.

Annie Venerable. Obligatory Realtor glamour shot. (Photo provided)

Annie loves doing this. She makes the process for her clients a very easy, seamless process. It takes a lot to put a sales transaction together—lots of moving parts. As she stated, “You cannot believe how much work behind the scene it takes to make it look easy.”

That Annie is so successful with this is no surprise when you learn that she has always had a clear idea about how to achieve a goal. She has done this her whole life.

In her words, “Write down a goal. Make a plan to get to that goal. You execute the things that are there; you just take action a little bit on whatever that thing is everyday, and then, guess what? Look what you’ve done. It’s literally that simple.”

A great opportunity to sell the house on Main St. presented itself (another part of the pride in this project), and Annie and Matt bought a house in Ludlow. This turned into yet another great project that she and Matt enjoy renovating, designing and decorating together.

They share their house with two dogs and two cats. The dogs are a Mutt and Jeff combination. Olive weighs 110 pounds, and Griffy, tops the scales at 12.

The cats are Mr. Kittens (he’s very formal) and an outdoor “half-cat” (probably full cat by this point) named Theodore Britches, or Ted (he’s not as formal).

Annie is living the kind of life that she has always wanted. She’s married to her best friend, enjoying tearing up and reconstructing yet another house and working at a job she loves.

That existential question “Are you happy?” was answered. It just took a bunch of Praying Mantises to do it. But, no matter, she still does not like bugs!

Ginger Dawson writes about people — the neighbors you need to know and people you need to meet and understand. If you have ideas for subjects please share them with Ginger at ginger@fuse.net.

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