Thank you, everyone, for this thoughtful discussion. I am very appreciative that so many experienced Aikidoka are assembled to share their knowledge and experience with me.
I very much appreciate Jennifer's story- thank you for sharing something so important to you.
I guess I can try to answer my own question, though I know I am still a beginner (and not just in terms of Shoshin). The way that I know that I am making progress is not in a belt rank, but the fact that the instructor doesn't have to correct me as much.
Now, I'm down to only 4 or 5 corrections per class, instead of 8 or 9 like I used to get.
I think that, cumulatively, I have learned from this thread that because there is no end to Aikido, it is not a simple matter to plot out your progress.
In taking that lesson further, why should it even matter if I am not a "beginner" any longer? As long as I am learning, I am moving forward. It is only for my ego and desire to impress others that I want to be more than a beginner-
These are things I need to let go of.
So- Shoshin it is. Now- maybe I should get that tattooed on my forearm so I can read it everytime I take ukemi